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Name Instructor Course Date Alternative Energy Sources: The Need of the Hour. The world’s need for energy appears to be insatiable and is increasing by the hour. This is understandable, as energy is necessary for all the requisites of life, such as heat for cooking, cooling and warmth, power for manufacturing, and for transport and lighting…
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Download file to see previous pages... Forecasts show that coal, gas and oil supplies will last only for a few more centuries. Secondly, the use of fossil fuels poses serious danger to the environment. The combustion of fossil fuels leads to the emission of chlorofluorocarbons, mainly carbon-dioxide. This causes the ‘greenhouse effect’ which traps heat in the earth’s atmosphere, leading to global warming. The combustion of fossil fuels also causes atmospheric pollution and acidification of the environment. The environmental damage caused by oil-spills in the wake of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is fresh in minds. Likewise, nuclear power is associated with the risk of nuclear accidents, such as Chernobyl and Fukushima, and the problem of disposal of hazardous radioactive waste. As there is no sign of energy use declining in the conceivable future, the environmental impacts of energy consumption, and the depletion of energy sources, assumes grave implications. It is clear that the need for alternative, renewable sources of energy is the need of the hour. Energy consumption shows tremendous global variation, and “about a quarter of the world's population consumes three-quarters of the world's primary energy” (UN Document). About 20% of the global energy consumption is by the USA. Again, it is estimated that U.S. is responsible for about one-fifth of all human-produced greenhouse-gas emissions. Renewable sources of energy account for only 9.3% of the total US energy consumption (EIA). In this scenario, it is evident that the need for alternative energy sources should be a high priority for the government of the United States. It is heartening to note that President Obama has declared that “I know the country that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy will lead the global economy in the 21st century” (qtd. in Scientific American). The US government must promote alternative, renewable sources of energy, and also encourage energy conservation. Renewable sources of energy refer to those sources which are natural and are constantly replenished. Hydropower, solar energy, wind power, biomass energy, wood fuel and geothermal energy are examples of renewable energy sources. The destruction of the ecosystem through the construction of large dams across rivers, the flooding of vast areas of land, and the danger of dam wall rupture make hydroelectric power debatable. Dams also act as barriers to fish migration and pose the risk of waterborne diseases and toxic gases from submerged vegetation and soil. Geothermal energy appears promising, but is yet in the research and development stage. Biofuels compete with agricultural crops for land and can produce toxic combustion. Investment in Biofuels results in the rise in the price of food. They also generate large quantities of organic waste effluents which cause water pollution if they are not completely used as fertilizer. Ethanol is strongly dependent on government and tariffs. It also fuels an increasing demand for natural gas, as corn cultivation is fertilizer intensive and natural gas is an integral part of fertilizers. Corn-based ethanol is a major source of greenhouse gas emission. The burning of firewood is one of the worst air pollutants. Wood smoke is a major eye and lung irritant (UN Document). In this analysis, it is clear that the two sources of renewable energy which best qualify for receiving assistance from the government are solar ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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