The Solution to the Earths Energy Problems

Topics: Natural gas, Coal, Petroleum Pages: 5 (1836 words) Published: August 22, 2008
The Solution to the Earths’ Energy Conservation Problem
Gas prices have hit $6.00 a gallon! That is a scary thought, but reality is if we don’t start conserving our energy sources now, that is exactly what we will get gas for $6.00 a gallon or maybe even more. In today’s society we are only worried about the here, and the now. We all need to start thinking long term and come up with ideas for preserving our future. In the United States the industries use up about forty two percent of the nation’s total energy consumption (Berg and Hager 2007). The more developed a nation is the more energy it uses. Energy consumption around the world has increased every year since 1982; with most of the increases coming from the highly developed countries (Berg and Hager 2007). This high increase in energy consumption can be met by making a few changes, some of which would include making things, such as: Appliances, automobile, and home insulation, more energy efficient. There are lots of changes we could make that would not drastically change our everyday life. These little changes are the easiest to make because we will not feel them, and we will not feel deprived of energy. We need to start somewhere, and these simple things are the best place. If we don’t start making a change now, it may be too late. One of our main sources of energy now is coal. Coal is the most abundant fossil fuel in the world (Berg and Hager 2007). Coal is used by the utilities companies to produce electricity. Coal is usually mined. There are two types of mining methods used with coal; one is surface and the other is sub-surface (underground). In the United States surface mining is used to obtain approximately sixty percent of all coal mined in the United States. Sub-surface, underground, accounts for the other forty percent of coal mined in the United States. Surface mining has many advantages over subsurface. Some of those advantages are: less expensive, safer, and usually allows a more complete removal of coal. The down side to surface mining is that it damages the land it is done on, much more then subsurface. Surface mining causes serious environmental problems. In 1977 the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) was passed. Before this act abandoned land was left as open pits. Acid and toxic from these pits along with topsoil polluted streams. Dangerous landslides occurred on hills unstable due to lack of vegetation (Berg and Hager 2007). The most damaging surface mining is mountaintop removal. If continued at the current rate mountaintop removal mining half of the peaks in West Virginia will be gone. Coal burning contributes more to the air pollutants then burning either oil or natural gases. The United States Electric Power Plants that use coil burning as their energy currently contribute 1/3 of all airborne mercury emissions. There is a way to continue using coal, and not damage the environment. The first step is to make coal cleaner. Sulfur emissions associated with the combustion of coal can be reduced by scrubbers, or desulfurization systems (Berg and Hager 2007). Clean coal technologies are methods of burning coal that reduces air pollution. Fluidized-bed combustion mixes crushed coal with limestone particles in a strong air current during combustion (Berg and Hager 2007). This clean coal technology produces fewer nitrogen oxides and removes sulfur from the coal. This also helps in the sense that it produces more heat from any given amount of coal, then any other method. In the United States oil and natural gas account for approximately sixty three percent of all the energy used. Coal accounts for twenty three percent, nuclear power accounts for eight point two percent, and hydropower accounts for three point one percent. Around the globe, oil and natural gas account for sixty one point five percent. Petroleum also known as crude oil is a liquid of hydrocarbon compounds. During the refining of petroleum oil, it is separated into...
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