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Alternative energy/pros and cons - Research Paper Example

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With the recent occurrences of the British Petroleum (BP) oil spill reaching historic levels, the question of alternative energy is more relevant now than perhaps any time during American history. Since the discovery of petroleum in the 1860s, fossil fuels have become the…
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Alternative energy/pros and cons
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Alternative energy/pros and cons

Download file to see previous pages... Moreover, fossil fuels are amazingly destructive to the environment. The burning of oil for power creates great amounts of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes a great deal to the greenhouse effect. The Great London Fog of 1952, wherein over 12,000 people died of smog inhalation, was the result of coal-burning. Additionally, power plants and factories are known to dump their waste into lakes and streams, consequently fouling the water and killing whatever marine life may reside therein. (Wengenmayr 2008) Finally, the Exxon-Valdez tank spills in 1989 constituted an environmental catastrophe on a scale not known again until 2010 with BP.
Over the past few decades, three alternative energy sources have become the most well known: solar, wind, and hydroelectric power. The main point of support is, of course, that there is an unlimited supply of sun, wind, and water; equally important is that they all produce minimal amounts of pollution. All three have attracted controversy as being unreliable, costly, and aesthetically unpleasant. Granted, though they have their faults, many researchers believe alternative energy sources are ultimately preferable to fossil fuels and could potentially offer an alternative to the country’s steadfast reliance on oil.
The most popular alternative energy source is solar power. As a matter of fact, solar power is “the original energy source for all human activity…via growing plants. Solar energys main human application throughout most of history has thus been in agriculture and forestry, via photosynthesis. (Gibilsco 2006, pg. 34)”. There are two types of solar energy: passive and active. Passive solar energy, which can be used without the use of mechanical systems, has been used for centuries, mainly as a source of heat. Active solar energy has only been fully developed in the last half of the twentieth century and refers to the type of power ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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