The world is now in a race to find sustainable energy sources as a solution to the energy crisis the whole world is now facing. There are two reasons why experts believe that we are in a state of crisis. The first reason has to do with the supply of energy resources that is being extracted, processed and consumed worldwide. Activities around the world are currently reliant on fossil fuels. But It is common knowledge that there are not enough fossil fuels to sustain earth forever.
Fossil fuels VS sustainable energy
Fossil fuels are energy resources trapped below the earth and formed by a natural process of decomposition of plants and animals. The fuel is formed when these remains of plants and animals are subjected to extreme heat and pressure from the earth’s crust. However, it takes this process a very long time in order to produce energy from the fossils. A typical fuel source would take millions of years of decomposition and storage beneath the earth’s surface before it can be ready to be extracted as a fuel. There are forms of fossil fuels, which include coal, petroleum, and natural gas. These fossil fuels contain a high carbon composition thus making them an ideal source of energy.
Technically, fossil fuels are renewable energy sources as the process of plants and animals dying, being decomposed and turned into fossil fuels is a cycle. Unless life on earth stops to exist, the natural production of fossil fuels will continue. However, at the rate that the world is currently consuming the fossil fuels, we might have to wait for another million years in order for the next available material to be ready. In other words, we are currently consuming at a rate that is not within the capacity of this fuel source to regenerate.
Given the rate at which fuel is consumed today, it is estimated that we only have 88 years of oil and petroleum, 156 years of natural gas, and 220 years of coal left before we run out of fossil fuels. However, scientists are pushing for the discovery and the use of sustainable energy sources, because consumption rate is projected to increase with the growing number of earth’s population and the increased economic activity world wide. The more conservative scientists would estimate that we only have less than 70 years left before fossil fuels will be depleted. Thus, there is a big possibility that children born today may experience an energy crisis of epic proportions upon reaching old age. Definitely, the grandchildren of today’s generation will be affected if this prediction should prove correct. Thus, governments, private companies, development organizations, and all entities concerned with perpetuating life as we know it on this planet is now turning to sustainable energy sources.
Fossil fuels responsible for climate change
The second reason for the frantic search for sustainable energy is because of the fact that fossil fuels are known pollutants and are adversely affecting the earth’s environment and natural systems. Carbon emissions from coal –fired power plants, petroleum consumption in the industry and vehicles, as well as the methane and other greenhouse gases released during the extraction of fossil fuels are all blamed for the thinning of the ozone layer, the earth’s protective shield from the ultra-violet and harmful rays of the sun.
Emissions of these so-called greenhouse gases are also the main culprit in climate change. Because of the accumulation of gases over the earth’s atmosphere, heat from the sun that enters our atmosphere is trapped thus containing the heat within. As a result, the earth’s temperature is several degrees higher than what it used to be. This is affecting life on earth, as the earth’s ice caps on the South and North poles are expected to melt leading to an increase in sea water levels. Warmer water in the earth’s oceans lead to stronger and more devastating typhoons and hurricanes. Natural habitats of several flora and fauna also change with the changes in the climate at a rate that does not warrant a successful evolution for the species to effectively adapt.
Reversing what we ruined by using sustainable energy
As opposed to conventional sources, sustainable energy use promises to reverse this downhill direction our development is taking. Sustainable energy refers to energy that is capable of meeting the needs of the current generation, without undermining the capability of future generations to provide for their own. There are several sustainable energy sources that have become popular today. These are the wind, sun, water and tidal power or ocean currents. These are referred to as the renewable energy sources. These sources are infinite as they are naturally replenished, and do not diminish with continued use nor through time.
Renewable energy sources are found to be abundant in many places around the world. However at this point, they are not optimally utilized as current technologies are built upon the petroleum – fuelled mindset. The solar and wind technologies are also very young technologies and are not yet very accessible to consumers. The hydro-power technology, while already widely used is oftentimes very costly to build. The power of the ocean too, while almost limitless, proved to be a formidable field. These are among the barriers to the full utilization of renewable energy. However, the promise of cheaper and more sustainable energy today and in the future should be enough motivation for this generation to invest, take risks and be more responsible.
Other sources, though not renewable, are also considered sustainable because they cause very little harm, if none at all, to the earth’s environment. This includes the bio-fuels, ethanol and hydrogen fuels. While there had been debates on the sustainability of these sources, they are certainly found to be better that the current fossil-fuels that power life on earth.
The growing number of advocacies coming from all segments of society is now making headway in the shift to sustainable energy sources. Such is the burning desire of the collective population of the world as we navigate current realities and at the same time, conserve and prepare our society and environment for those who are yet to be born.