The industrial world has long been dependent on oil to power manufacturing and transportation. But with the unreliability of oil supplies due to incidents like the Gulf oil spill, and resistance to new pipelines, and the consequent high price of oil, many are starting to look to green energy sources to replace fossil fuels for economic reasons as well as environmental ones. This includes the U.S. military, which is taking the initiative in using alternative fuels.
Consumers both large and small can benefit from green energy. What is it precisely? Green energy is any power source that does not burn fossil fuels, and therefore does not add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Why is CO2 the culprit? Because its overabundance is altering the climate, causing the arctic ice cap to melt, with many consequences that will disrupt society for decades or centuries to come. We can all benefit from converting to green energy sources, as individuals and as residents of the planet. A homeowner can save long term energy costs by using green energy. This benefit carries over to everyone, as it helps reduce global warming.
The sources of green energy are many and varied, with more being developed every year. To reduce gasoline use, ethanol from corn was added. Then experts began to rethink this step, as it depletes food sources, and ethanol is less than ideal in its effects on engines. Scientists are developing other bio-fuels, from sources such as switch grass and algae.
The energies of earth and sun are the greatest long term, reliable sources of green energy. These include solar, tidal, geothermal, hydro-power and wind. Efforts to harness these effectively are making steady progress. These represent a way to have unlimited power without damaging the earth’s atmosphere.
Because the developed industrial world already has systems in place that use fossil fuels, converting to green energy means a lot of replacement costs. In a way, third world countries have an advantage. They can start out with a structure that uses green energy, obviating replacement costs,–just as they are starting out using cell phones instead of stringing telephone lines throughout their country.
Europe has been a leader in replacing fossil fuels with green energy. Denmark and the Netherlands have harnessed the seashore winds using wind turbines. Germany has led in using solar energy.
Hydro-power has long been in use in the past. It was the prime power source in the early stages of the industrial revolution. Factories were sited in places with running water, by rivers and waterfalls.
Wind power has been used on a small scale. Throughout the West you see windmills that bring up water to troughs where cattle drink.
Geothermal has been used in places with hot springs.
The green energy movement comes into people’s everyday lives at home in a number of ways. The development of recycling, with weekly pickups, has been important to reducing waste, making better use of earth’s resources. It is also important in keeping toxic substances out of landfills and the water supply. Technology to make green energy feasible has reached down to the individual level in many ways. The development of far more efficient light bulbs reduces our use of electricity. Likewise, energy efficient appliances work to reduce our needs from the power grid, therefore saving on fossil fuel use. More efficient engines in our cars mean we burn less gasoline, therefore have less carbon emissions.
This article has tried to introduce you to the overall picture of green energy and how it is replacing fossil fuels. The rapid increase in the atmospheric temperature has brought alarm, bringing home the need to halt the increase and stabilize earth’s climate.