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The Necessity of Implementing Alternative Forms of Energy Production

Published on December 14th, 2019 at 01:03 am

By Nathalia Wyss

Environmentally friendly energy sources would improve the living conditions of people across the globe. Air quality is a major concern for many people in large urban environments, as it can lead to serious health issues. When fossil fuels are burned to produce energy, they can release harmful byproducts and pollutants. These pollutants can result in illnesses such as “asthma and breathing difficulties…brain damage, heart problems, cancer, neurological disorders, and premature death” (Union of Concerned Scientists). These are serious health concerns that can affect people on a global scale. Heavy air pollution can lead to an interruption in everyday life and continuous exposure can cause irreversible health problems. Some countries are already feeling the effects of poor air quality more so than others. Over the weekend of November 8, 2019, flights had to be rerouted from New Delhi to other airports, and the government began to pass out 5 million face masks due to heavy smog (Pokharel). Poor air quality isn’t confined to one country. Harmful pollutants will spread across the globe, affecting millions, possibly billions of people. The use of clean energy sources can help to combat this issue. The Canadian government has recognized the issues associated with current energy production methods, and they have begun to promote the use of renewable energy sources. The Canadian government sees the use of alternative forms of energy production beneficial as, “the processes of converting renewable sources such as wind, solar, tidal, and geothermal into kinetic energy are environmentally benign: no emissions of…noxious substances are produced” (Dolenko 370). There is a reason these methods of energy production are also known as clean energy; they leave the environment clean of harmful pollutants. As recognized by the Canadian Government, these alternative forms of energy allow for cleaner air which in turn creates a healthier living environment as health concerns associated with poor air quality become a non-issue. The government's recognition of these concerns is the first step in implementing solutions and will lead to healthier living conditions for its citizens.

Furthermore, not only would the use of clean energy sources reduce the amount of harmful, disease-causing pollutants in the air, but it would also decrease the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The current energy production methods cause copious amounts of carbon dioxide to be released into the environment. In a report compiling numbers from two branches of the International Energy Agency, the Energy Information Administration, the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, and the Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research, it was found that anywhere from 26.7-28.3 petagrams of carbon dioxide is being released into the atmosphere yearly from the use of coal, oil, and gas (Macknick 24, 33). This high amount of carbon dioxide is collecting in our atmosphere and proving to be damaging. Carbon dioxide is known as a greenhouse gas, and part of its function is to trap heat. Normally this is helpful; however, due to the overabundance of carbon dioxide, the temperature of the planet is continuously rising. Alternative sources of energy provide an effective way to combat this issue. There has already been a success using clean energy to reduce carbon emissions. The European Union found that due to the “deployment of renewable energy since 2005” in 2012 greenhouse gas emission values were 7% lower than the projected values (European Environment Agency). The use of renewable energy has proven to result in a substantial decrease of carbon emissions. The European Union has achieved success in this area by converting part of the energy production from fossil fuels to renewable energy. This small conversion by one group resulted in important improvements and provides a model for other nations considering similar changes. Making converting to clean energy a global effort would greatly reduce the yearly carbon emissions and would help to combat the continuously rising temperatures.

Additionally, the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and the slowing of global warming would help to protect biodiversity. The climate crisis and the rising temperatures caused by greenhouse gas emissions has led to the endangerment of many of the Earth’s diverse ecosystems. These problems are threatening the Earth’s biodiversity. Recent research has shown that species are going extinct at a rate that is up to 1000 times the normal rate (Center for Biological Diversity). Each species is a component of an ecosystem. Losing a species can cause an ecosystem to lose its delicate balance ultimately leading to its collapse. The loss of species is not only harmful to the environment but in the coming years may have a direct effect on health, food and water security and poverty reduction according to comments from United Nations Biodiversity Chief Robert Watson (Niranjan). The loss of biodiversity will directly impact humanities’ ability to provide for basic human rights. This should be of great concern to governments and individuals alike and should serve as the basis for cooperation among different groups. To prevent further loss of biodiversity, management and conservation strategies need to be carefully formulated (Mokany and Ferrier 374). While the implementation of alternative forms of energy is not a conservation strategy itself, it is a step in the right direction. Clean energy would deal with one of the root causes of decreasing biodiversity, climate change. As previously established, energy production methods such as solar power, hydropower, and wind power would decrease carbon emissions slowing the increase in global temperature which would facilitate the survival of more species. The goal of increasing the use of these methods to the point where they could rival that of fossil fuel combustion and make a substantial difference in slowing the increase of temperatures will require many resources, and the cooperation of individuals and governments.

Alternative forms of energy production are an effective way to combat climate change and would provide many benefits for humanity; however, there are those unwilling to implement any of these methods due to economic concerns. The implementation of alternative forms of energy production would not only benefit the environment, and people’s health, but it would also have a positive economic impact. Less developed countries could implement renewable energy as an alternative to purchasing conventional energy sources. India has begun to successfully implement solar and wind power to provide greater energy accessibility and avoid the costs of importing fossil fuels (Kar 238). Clean energy can provide countries with the means to produce their energy without having to rely on imports. Although there would be costs associated with establishing wind farms, dams, and solar power plants, they would ultimately prove cost-efficient as countries would no longer have to purchase imports of fossil fuels. On a smaller scale, individuals could potentially install solar panels to partially or entirely provide for their energy needs. Should individuals choose to do this, they would see a marked decrease in their electrical bill as they would no longer need to purchase energy from a provider, especially in sunny areas. Additionally, large scale projects to implement solar power, hydropower, and wind power would expand the renewable energy industry giving rise to new jobs. Research has shown that in the solar industry alone, job opportunities are being created at a rate that is 12 times faster than that found for the rest of the U.S. economy (Gessesse et. Al. 8). Renewable energy is a quickly growing industry and it can provide jobs for many people. Not only does the industry provide jobs for the initial installation, but also for maintenance and upkeep of the machinery used to produce clean energy. Renewable energy sources may initially present a cost which is the basis for economic concerns. However, when further investigated, it is made clear that renewable energy ultimately proves to economically positive by reducing costs spent on buying energy from outside sources and creating jobs. The jobs associated with renewable energy will only continue to grow should governments consider implementing alternative forms of energy production seriously. Individuals and larger organizations’ demand for renewable energy will lead to an increase in job prospects. Ultimately, through the collaborative efforts of individuals, industry, and government renewable energy will prove to have a positive effect on the economy.

Environmentally friendly energy production is not simply a possibility, but a feasible option. Commitment from multiple individuals and organizations could make it into a reality. A reality in which alternative energy production was a norm would lead to a better, healthier, safer environment that would be beneficial to all citizens of the world. A conscious united effort to focus on clean energy options could prove successful if the right people and the right amount of dedication were to be applied. To ensure sustainable energy production becomes the norm, those elected to legislature have plans to implement clean energy, and wherever possible citizens should strive to implement clean energy sources into their communities. Actions can range from installing solar panels to petitioning the government on any level to provide resources for large scale projects of this nature. The implementation of clean energy requires the cooperation of multiple groups, which would eventually beneficial for all.

Works Cited

Center for Biological Diversity. The Extinction Crisis, Center for Biological Diversity, www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/biodiversity/elements_of_biodiversity/extinction_crisis/.

Dolenko, A. “Alternative Energy in Canada.” Energy Exploration & Exploitation, vol. 8, no. 5, 1990, pp. 360–376. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/43753759.

Environmental Protection Agency. “Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 13 Sept. 2019, www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions.

European Environment Agency. “Renewables Successfully Driving down Carbon Emissions in Europe.” European Environment Agency, European Environment Agency, 13 Jan. 2017, www.eea.europa.eu/highlights/renewables-successfully-driving-down-carbon.

Gessesse, Eskedar, et al. “Now Hiring: The Growth of America's Clean Energy & Sustainability Jobs.” Boston, 2017.

Kar, Sanjay Kumar. “Renewable Energy Market Developments: A Study of India.” Renewable Energy Law and Policy Review, vol. 6, no. 4, 2015, pp. 238–247. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/26256467.

Macknick, Jordan. Carbon Dioxide Emission Reports. International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), 2009, pp. 23–42, Energy and Carbon Dioxide Emission Data Uncertainties, www.jstor.org/stable/resrep15765.5.

Mokany, Karel, and Simon Ferrier. “Predicting Impacts of Climate Change on Biodiversity: a Role for Semi-Mechanistic Community-Level Modelling.” Diversity and Distributions, vol. 17, no. 2, 2011, pp. 374–380. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/41058185.

Niranjan, Ajit. “Why Biodiversity Loss Hurts Humans as Much as Climate Change: DW: 06.05.2019.” DW.COM, Deutsche Welle, 6 May 2019, www.dw.com/en/why-biodiversity-loss-hurts-humans-as-much-as-climate-change/a-48579014.

Pokharel, Sugam, and Amy Woodyatt. “Flights Diverted as New Delhi Chokes on Heavy Pollution.” CNN, Cable News Network, 4 Nov. 2019, www.cnn.com/2019/11/03/india/delhi-flights-pollution-intl-scli/index.html.

Union of Concerned Scientists. “Coal Power Impacts.” Union of Concerned Scientists, Union of Concerned Scientists, 15 Nov. 2017, www.ucsusa.org/resources/coal-power-impacts..