Can Green Energy Save the World?
We often hear about how human beings are slowly destroying our planet. But does it have to be that way? Is there something we can do as ordinary individuals to turn the tide and protect our small corner of the world?
Let’s face it, as a society everything we do causes pollution. Whenever we drive to work, attend a party, feed the homeless, go to a movie, or even watch television, we pollute. We can’t help it. That’s because our industrialized society relies on fossil fuels for energy.
Fossil fuels—what in the world is that? Fossil fuels in a word, is oil. We use it to power our automobiles, our airplanes, our power plants, as well as in the manufacture of millions of products. And it’s expensive.
Problems with Traditional Energy
Most people not only want to save money by conserving energy, they want to protect the planet. After all, it’s the only one we’ve got—that is until advanced technology takes us to the stars.
Until we reach that blissful future we’ve got to protect mother Earth just the way she is. And spewing dangerous toxins into the air from burning fossil fuels causes havoc on the environment. Fossil fuels are a direct cause of the following problems:
• Rising global temperatures
• Depletion of fossil fuels
• Global pollution
• Political instability
There are many things average people can do to conserve our precious resources and replace fossil fuels with renewable energy. Let’s discuss some of the alternatives available to us today.
Solar power is energy that’s generated by collecting heat from the sun and converting it to electricity. The two most popular ways of accomplishing this technological sleight-of-hand are passive solar energy and active solar energy.
Passive solar energy involves constructing buildings to take advantage of natural heating and cooling influences of the sun. Structures are built to absorb heat in the winter and circulate the warmed air to the occupants. The same structure then deflects the summer sun while absorbing cooler air from a breeze.
Active solar energy requires the use of photovoltaic cells to collect heat from the sun and converting it to electricity. This is done by attaching solar panels on the roof and sides of buildings to collect the sun’s energy and transfer the converted power to batteries stored elsewhere in the structure.
Wind power is possible by using generators to capture the kinetic energy of the wind as it billows across the planet. Very little if any pollution is generated by the process of creating electricity in this manner. More widespread use of this energy source will go a long way toward solving our energy problems.
Biomass is produced by the process of photosynthesis in which green plants convert solar energy, carbon dioxide, and water into carbohydrates. Photosynthesis provides food, wood, and fiber for us while using only a tiny fraction of the solar energy that showers the earth everyday. The 100 billion tons of biomass produced in the world each year contain about six times the energy required for all our needs.
Geothermal energy comes from heat generated by natural processes beneath the earth’s surface. It occurs at great depths everywhere on earth but in some places can be found close or even at the surface. Hot water or steam can be extracted from the earth and used to heat and cool buildings, process food and other consumer goods; heat cattle barns, greenhouses, and fish ponds; and even generate electricity.
Our ability to address the global energy crisis is limited only by our imaginations. As individuals we can each do our part by adopting one or more of these technologies for our personal energy needs.