Mitigation Strategies and Solutions
What is “Green?”
When people use the word “green” to imply a healthier earth or environment, and you ask what does green mean, you will find, dependent on the individual circumstances either no definitive answer , or many answers. Just because, for example, one “green item’ works in one location, does not mean it will work in another and it may even cause problems. Let’s pretend that you live in a mountain region desert area and you decide that you need to redo the roof on your home. After weeks and months of research trying to find something “green”, you finally find a new product that looks promising until you read about where it has been tested.
This product is used for roof insulation, it is cost effective, and has very good reviews from the consumers who live in an area that gets plenty of rain, and no snow, would you consider that a viable reason to use the same product? You would probably realize that the snow you receive in the winter would cause the roof to cave in, and since you live in the desert you would have to find a way to water your roof, not very “green”, is it? Pokrandt, R. (March 2010)
We use energy to keep our food fresh and to cook with, to keep warm or cool depending on the weather; we also use energy, for transportation. Some of the energy used is renewable, however for the most part it is not.
Nonrenewable Energy Resources
According to Wiley Plus (2010) Coal is the most abundant fossil fuel, while surface mining is used the majority of the time, other forms of mining are used, one is called strip mining. Coal mining has a huge impact on the environment, Acid and toxic drainage pollutes surrounding water ways, and also prevents plants from re-establishing the mined area. Burning coal also produces more pollutants then burning oil, electricity companies that currently burn coal to produce electricity are responsible for one third of certain airborne emissions, which adds to the greenhouse effect. Oil and natural gas are the most used nonrenewable fossil fuels, 61.5% of the worlds energy comes from oil and natural gas. Most of the oil and natural gas is found in the area of the Persian Gulf. The environmental impact associated with oil and natural gas stems from burning and transporting. The transportation we use that burns oil, adds to the greenhouse effect, natural gas does burn cleaner but it too adds to the greenhouse effect. There is also a risk to the environment when transporting oil and natural gas, an example of this would be the supertanker Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 on the coast of Alaska, in the Prince William Sound. As recently as 2005, there are still species of animals recovering and some that are not yet recovering.
Problems, Strategies, and Solutions
The nonliving or abiotic factors include ocean currents, temperature, wind and rainfall. In the environment, when the living and the nonliving interact, an ecosystem is born, and even small changes within this system can have consequences. Organisms can change their environment through interaction, however in an attempt to improve on aspects of their own lives, humans have brought about the most changes; most of the effects not beneficial to the rest of the environment, such as mining for coal and drilling for oil.
Energy consumption will continue to increase as the human population grows, and as underdeveloped countries keep growing and striving to improve their standards of living. One plan is for conservation, or reduction in use. People can do such things as walking to their destination if feasible, or taking a bicycle, they can also share rides with their friends or co-workers who happen to live close by. Another strategy that can be employed is energy efficiency, use lower wattage bulbs in light fixtures, or fluorescent bulbs would be even better. Keep the thermostat set at a reasonable temperature or open windows when the weather permits. It is believed that conservation and efficiency are the best way to approach our energy uses, while other solutions can be developed. Conservation and efficiency also help our environment by not emitting as much C02 into our air, thereby decreasing our effect on global warming. Home energy production should be affordable for all, if everyone was hooked up to be self sufficient (when weather was right), then the overage of the energy they produced would be sent to the electric company for others to use. One challenge to home energy production would be that the electric companies would not make as much money, and perhaps some of the technicians would no longer be needed, so they would lose their jobs. However they could seek employment with one of the many new renewable energy companies that will crop up. We should also start building renewable energy plants and start experimenting with different ways to pull more energy from these renewable sources, such as solar and wind. Areas of the earth that would produce the best renewable energy sources should be tested and outfitted, maybe there should be research done on the flow of the gulf steam. The Gulf Stream has strong currents that would be beneficial to a tidal energy generator. Researching possible areas and more ways to create renewable energy would open up more jobs. Car manufactures have a good start on hybrid cars, and since transportation is one of the highest contributors to the level of CO2 in the air, it is important that we all eventually migrate to hybrid vehicles. A challenge to this would be the initial cost of the car, it would save money and energy down the road, but most people cannot afford a hybrid right now, hopefully the cost will soon start falling. According to Muhida, R., Ali, M., Kassim, P. S., Eusuf, M. A., Sutjipto, A G, & , (Spring 2010). It is important to develop alternative clean resources to fossil fuel, and there seems to be promising technology, conversion of direct solar radiation. This conversion is called photovoltaic and depends on the regions irradiation output and temperature, so some regions would not be suitable for this alternative. In an article by Bradbrook, A J (April 2002)solar energy is not new, it was used way back in the Roman days, they would build their homes to take full advantage of the winter sun, and exclude the summer sun. Maybe we should study how the ancient Romans constructed their homes and start building ours with similar specifications. We could take a lesson from the Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies at Oberlin College, their example of green architecture is not only visually appealing, but only uses 20% of the energy needed to in a standard, or traditional new building. It is a very interesting concept, the building itself was designed as an ecosystem, in other words “it obtains its energy from sunlight, preserves biological diversity, and produces few wastes”. The energy used for heating and cooling is obtained from extracting heat from the ground, while on the roof they have solar panels that collect the suns energy; this energy is what powers the most of the building, whatever excess of energy the solar panels produce is sold to the power company WileyPlus, Wiley J. & Sons, (2000-2010). Biogas? That’s what you get when you convert biomass to gas, and this can be done with mostly animal wastes. A biogas digester is used to produce mostly methane gas, which is then used for cooking and household lighting. When the digester has converted the waste the remaining solid material is then used as fertilizer. Imagine what would happen if dairies across America started using biogas digesters, they might be able to produce enough power for several major cities. Biomass can also be converted into liquid fuel that can be used in internal combustion engines. Biomass reduces our dependence on fossil fuel, and the resulting pollution is less than what fossil fuels produce. There are problems with the use of biomass, it may use too much of the land and water that would normally be used by agriculture to grow and raise food, this would increase our cost of the food we buy from the grocery store. Another issue would be that people use wood as biomass; this depletes our woodlands, causing soil erosion and air pollution and would also have a negative effect on our water supply WileyPlus, Wiley J. & Sons, (2000-2010). Although the government does provide tax breaks and other incentives for individuals to implement the use of renewable energy, for example hybrid cars, there are a large number of people who cannot afford these changes. When we find a way to make renewable energy affordable to more people then I suspect that energy conversation will really begin to happen. According to the White House (2009) President Obama made an observation that we could become the world’s leader in renewable energy, and the President is pushing for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This is something that would help all countries, and I for one sincerely hope that this comes through for us all. The Government should set a good example and use renewable energy wherever possible. Stronger advertising should be put into action about the effects of pollution. Although people for the most part do understand that we need to cut down on consumption, if we had stronger graphic images that the general public would see, then the message may sink in enough so that the individual feels compelled to act.
Continued Depletion of nonrenewable resources will force people to dig deeper wells, or mine deeper into the earth, which will cause destruction of ecosystems in the area of mining, and ultimately in the ecosystem as a whole. Continued use of nonrenewable fossil fuels will continue to pollute our planet and damage our ozone layer, which will ultimately cause our own extinction.
It has been said many times that mankind will bring about their own destruction, although when said, the point was being made about nuclear bombs, I do believe mankind will bring their own destruction, but it will be through overuse of natural resources coupled with the pollution of the very environment they depend on for survival.
Nonrenewable energy resources are fossil fuels and cannot be replaced. People have been dependant on this resource for decades. Change is always difficult, even when the need is great. As we stand on the precipice, will we continue to watch our own demise, or will we finally move off our haunches to effect changes that have real meaning, not only to our own survival, but that of the creatures we share this planet with.
Bradbrook, A J (April 2002). Green power schemes: the need for a legislative base. Melbourne University Law Review, 26, 1. p.15(17). Retrieved March 17, 2010, from General OneFile via Gale: http://find.galegroup.com.ezproxy.apollolibrary.com/gps/start.do?prodId=IPS&userGroupName=uphoenix
Muhida, R., Ali, M., Kassim, P. S., Eusuf, M. A., Sutjipto, A G, & , . (Spring 2010). A simulation method to find the optimal design of photovoltaic home system in Malaysia, case study: a building integrated photovoltaic in Putra Jaya. International Journal of Social Sciences, 5, 2. p.117. Retrieved March 17, 2010, from Academic OneFile via Gale: http://find.galegroup.com.ezproxy.apollolibrary.com/gps/start.do?prodId=IPS&userGroupName=uphoenix
National Renewable Energy Laboratory, (2009). Wind Energy Resource Atlas of the United States. Retrieved March 15, 2010. From http://rredc.nrel.gov/wind/pubs/atlas/chp3.html
Pokrandt, R. (March 2010). What is green?. The Technology Teacher, 69, 6. p.5(6). Retrieved March 17, 2010, from General OneFile via Gale: http://find.galegroup.com.ezproxy.apollolibrary.com/gps/start.do?prodId=IPS&userGroupName=uphoenix
The White House, President Barack Obama, (n.d) Energy and Environment. Retrieved March 10, 2010. From http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/energy-and-environment/
WileyPlus, Wiley J. & Sons, (2000-2010). Chapter 17. Nonrenewable Energy Resources. Retrieved March 18, 2010. From http://edugen.wiley.com/edugen/student/main.uni