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Environment - Assignment Example

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Soft energy on the other hand deals with renewable and sustainable energy sources, like solar and wind power. The current structure of hard energy production will…
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Hard-path versus soft-path energy development. Hard energy refers to current conventional energy sources available today like power plants, oil and nuclear power. Soft energy on the other hand deals with renewable and sustainable energy sources, like solar and wind power. The current structure of hard energy production will be greatly affected by a shift to soft energy. Presently, society is geared towards hard energy utilization and a shift entails the establishment of soft energy sources to meet the demands of industry and society. The cost of establishing and maintaining these structures is still high, as the technology to develop these sources are still costly. Soft energy sources are more sustainable however, as they rely on inexhaustible sources of power compared to hard energy. Once established, soft energy sources are more environment friendly as they do not rely on the burning of fossil fuels or produce deadly by-products like oil-fed engines and nuclear power plants. Soft energy development looks at energy efficiency and utilizes less power as those produced from hard energy sources.
2. Five Year Plan for a Sustainable Residence: Puget Sound
To reduce energy use from conventional sources on the property, the first step is to insulate my house to improve heating and lessen the need for heaters. The next step is to install solar power cells on the roof of the house for electricity. A solar water heater (NREL) will also be installed to heat water. Larger insulated windows will be installed in strategic areas of the house to reduce the need for the use of electric light sources during daytime as the windows will serve brighten the interiors of the house. A study of the direction of prevailing winds will be done and some tree will be cut down to clear wind channels in the forest towards windmills which I will construct near the house. These windmills can power generators and can be set-up to pump water from water wells. I will set aside an area where I can cut down trees to use for fuel in the winter months to power the heater and for cooking. Cut down trees will be replanted.
3. Environmental Impacts of Dam Construction
Construction of dams have associated environmental impacts such as loss of farm lands, loss of vegetation and biodiversity, sanitation and solid waste disposal, air, water and noise pollution, and impact on river ecology (Byaruhanga et al.). In order to minimize these effects, safeguards and mitigation measures must be applied during the construction phase. Some mitigating measures which could be undertaken during construction is the replanting of vegetation in other areas to minimize vegetation loss; avoidance of environmentally critical area (i.e. migratory paths and breeding areas of wildlife); maintaining the discharge of water from the dam to recreate the normal volume of water flowing in the rivers; establish flood control and erosion control measures in the construction sites; maintain proper sanitation and disposal of wastes; and other such measures as to reduce the levels of noise pollution in and around the construction site.
4. Relationship of the Global Water Shortage to Food Production
Rapid and growing changes in the natural ecosystem affect the hydrologic cycle and thereby affects water supply globally. Deforestation, massive land conversion and other human activity affects climate and reduces the volume of ground and other natural water sources. Combined with increasing population and conversion of lands for agricultural purposes, water resources are being diverted from human consumption to support the world’s hunger, with about 40% of the world population already competing for water (Sandford). Larger tracts of land are already being converted for food production use in order to support human food needs. This conversion leads to destruction of natural vegetative cover which in effect affects the water cycle. Unless population is controlled and more efficient food production technologies are developed, man will always be competing with agriculture for water usage.
Works Cited
Byaruhanga, Achilles, James Kalema and Agrippinah Namara. The Impact of Dam Construction on the Biodiversity and Ecology of Mpanga River Gorge, Kamwenge District, Western Uganda. South Asia Energy Management Systems Inc. 2008. Web. 28 November 2012.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory. A Consumer’s Guide Heat Your Water with the Sun. US Department of Energy. Washington, DC: DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. 2003. Web. 28 November 2012.
Sandford, Bob. “Will the Next Water Wars Be Fought Over Water?” The Global Water Crisis: Addressing an Urgent Security Issue. Ed. Harriet Bigas. Canada: United Nations University – Institute for Water, Environment and Health. 2012. Web. 28 November 2012. Read More
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