April 22, 2014 Earth Day!
How could I have missed the date to write on this blog? It didn't skip me as I mentioned it to many people yesterday and we celebrated during our Earth-Keeping HUM 212 class with Professor Owsley.
Just a few words about the celebration it started more than twenty years ago, and in the US during the hippie 70's when a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin Gaylord Nelson founded the movement. Those years witnessed the birth of many environmental movements; as an example is the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency during the republican president office of Richard Nixon.
You can learn more about Earth Day here.
So....(belated) Happy Earth Day!!!!!
Sunday, April 13, 2014
TriMet Sustainability Program
Warner Pacific College
April 5, 2014
The purpose of this analysis is to identify key concepts of TriMet's utilization of Biodiesel and its effect on society . This essay will establish the economic impact of public transportation and the opportunities that TriMet took lower their carbon footprint on the earth.
In the United States, one of the first advancements in bio-fuel is a clean burning diesel replacement called Biodiesel. The American dream was to reduce dependence on diesel being imported from other countries. The research and development of biodiesel resulted in success by creating green jobs and improving the environment. Biodiesel is made with anything from agricultural oils, recycled cooking oil, animal fat all of which meet a certain specification. One such company that has made this exact plunge into the future from our hometown of Portland Oregon is TriMet.
(National Biodiesel Board, 2014 )
TriMet started their venture ten years ago in the realm of Biodiesel ten years ago and their statistics do not disappoint. In order to conserve fuel and lower emission impact on the environment, TriMet established Biodiesel for their buses and Electricity for their Max line. By using improved fuel alternatives in buses the benefits of biodiesel reduced greenhouse gases, reduced dependence on foreign oil, moderate price swings for petroleum-based diesel and helped build the biodiesel industry. The long term results are undeniable. The emissions from 1988 emission levels are at 10.7 to 2010 where levels dropped to 0.01, the metrics speak for themselves.
(TriMet Buisness Department, 2014)
In my opinion, today's society is inspired by the variety of concepts used to limit usage of our natural resources. There are those that would differ, however as more awareness is raised and accessible for utilization on a daily basis is the mark of a more efficient society. The challenges that we face specifically are our very own personal vehicles. It is the single largest contributor and the solution is accessible with the simple purchase of a five dollar all day ticket to get you to and from your job. Other companies around Portland that also make advancements towards a green future by supporting TriMet's efforts contribute by charging for public and private parking. For example, OHSU charges parking to their employees to encourage public transit, the Portland Air National Guard base requires that members to get their DEQ emissions check for Personally Owned vehicles, and parking downtown on a night at the Rose Garden for a Blazer Game charges at least fifteen dollars for a couple of hours. Ideally, the middle class will be economically savvy enough to discover paying for parking is just not worth it when you can take the train.
(2014, Mar). Retrieved Mar 2014, from Ecological Footprint: www.myfootprint.org/
Laposata, J. W. (2014). Environmental. Glenview: Pearson.
National Biodiesel Board. (2014 , Jan). BioDiesel America's Advanced Biofuel. Retrieved Apr 2014, from Paratherm Corporation: http://www.biodiesel.org/
TriMet Buisness Department. (2014, Jan). Conserving Fuel and Reducing Emissions. Retrieved April 2014, from TriMet: http://trimet.org/sustainable/fuel-emissions
Warner Pacific College
April 1, 2014
Our society relies heavily on many types of energy resources. In fact according to an article written by Robert Barr from the Associated Press, China is the world’s biggest consumer of energy, accounting for 20.3 percent globally and the U.S. comes in closely behind them at 19 percent (2011). That is a lot of energy being used by the U.S.
We use these energy sources to heat and light our homes; power our machinery; fuel our vehicles; produce plastics, pharmaceuticals, and synthetic fibers; and provide the comforts and conveniences to which we’ve grown accustomed in the industrial age (Laposata & Withgott, 2014, p. 520).
One of the key statements in the above citing is ‘which we’ve grown accustomed in the industrial age’. I would agree that in order to continue to function in society that we do need or require more energy than in our pre-industrial years, but at the same time our society has become so accustomed to certain practices that use energy unnecessarily. One example is in the turning on of lights when there is plenty of natural light to adequately see without turning on extra light. So for starters one alternative that everyone can directly participate in is using natural light for lighting instead of using other forms of energy to power those lights. In some buildings it may require that natural light be directed into buildings so that they can avoid or use less electricity to provide needed light.
Another way to cut down on electricity or at least non-renewable electricity sources is to use solar power sources for the majority of our power needs. “The surface of the earth receives 120,000 terawatts of solar radiation (sunlight) – 20,000 times more power than what is needed to supply the entire world”(Maehlum, 2013). That is a lot of renewable energy.
Solar power is environmentally friendly and in of itself it does not cause pollution. “However there are emissions associated with the manufacturing, transportation, and installation of solar power systems – almost nothing compared to most conventional energy sources” (Maehlum, 2013). That is really good news for our environment.
The biggest energy resources we use here in the United States are fossil fuel. “In the United States, oil coal, and natural gas together supply 82% of energy demand” (Laposata & Withgott, 2014, p. 522). While increasing our use of solar power will help reduce those numbers we will probably need major advances in technology eliminate our fossil fuel usage. Unfortunately there is so much money to be made in the fossil fuel industry that it makes it hard to get the investment needed to advance technology to bring us away from this fossil fuel era.
While hybrid cars are a step in the right direction they are still dependent on fossil fuels. Tesla has stepped to the market providing consumers with an electric car alternative however the expense of the car makes it pretty much an impossibility for the average consumer. “Currently Tesla’s cheapest car is the Model S, which retails at around $70,000” (McGregor, 2014). Tesla manufactures have plans to roll out a model in 2017 that is affordable. “By affordable Tesla means in the region of $40,000” (McGregor, 2014). Unfortunately that is still higher than the average price of a car in the United States. $40,000 is definitely a lot cheaper but the question is will it be cheap enough to get its foot into the fossil fuel auto world. I hope so. This is the type of technology advances we need to see. Not that the Tesla is the answer to all of our problems but it might be one more step in the right direction.
Laposata &Withgott, (2014). Environment: The science behind the stories. (pp. 520-522) Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.
Maehlum, M. (2013). Solar Energy Pros and Cons. Retrieved from: http://energyinformative.org/solar-energy-pros-and-cons/
McGregor, J. (2014). Tesla to offer an ‘affordable’ car by 2017, but will it take off?. Article retrieved from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaymcgregor/2014/03/31/tesla-to-offer-affordable-cars-by-2015/
March 30th, 2014
When I think about the resources that we have and the dependency we have on other countries it really has me wondering what if we didn’t those resources and we had to depend on ourselves? To be honest that’s a hard question to answer.
First of what are some of resources we depend on? The first one that comes to mind is obviously the sun. Most of the energy we capture for use on earth originates in the nuclear reactions powering the sun. For example coal, oil, natural gas and even the wind and hydropower we harness to generate electricity, originally derive their energy content from the sun. Some facts on energy resources are 40% of U.S energy from all sources is used to generate electricity, in 2008 fossil fuels provided almost 85% of the energy used in the United States, 20% of our electricity was generated by nuclear fuel in 2008 and lastly, emerging technologies is a huge one that’s happening right now and things that derive from that is electric vehicles, biofuels and hydrogen fuel cells so as noted we have a lot of resources that we depend greatly on to keep us moving every day.
We depend greatly on fossil fuels along with nuclear energy supply about 93% of the world’s energy which a lot is considering that they are non-renewable energy sources. Renewable energy at the time is only supplying about 7% of the world’s energy which ultimately isn’t close to being enough. I ask myself how long would it be before the fossil fuels are depleted. Scientist predict 50 to 150 years and that isn’t long enough at all, sure it won’t happen in my life or not even my kids’ lives but definitely will happen in my grandkids and great grandkids lives. The biggest factor on how long fossil fuels are going to last depend greatly on the world’s population and I don’t see that dying off anytime soon if anything there will just be continued growth for years to come. So what are some alternatives that we should really take advantage of that we already have? My opinion is that we should find use out of the sources we’ve had for millions of years which is the sun, water and wind. They don’t pollute the earth, they’re renewable and efficient. Obviously the object is to capture and harness their mechanical power and convert it to electricity in the most effective and productive manner possible. There is enough renewable energy to supply the entire world’s energy needs forever but the challenge is to develop a method that’s effective and economically capture, store and use the energy when needed. I believe that it can happen look at the how far they’ve come with electric cars, the use of solar energy and modern windmills to name a few. Another possibility of generating energy is through the use of more dams.
Coming up with new and improved ways to generate energy is essential to us now and in years to come because really there is no turning back when it comes to energy sources so coming up with new ways to crucial. Our dependence upon nonrenewable energy resources is a potential recipe for disaster.
“Our Energy Sources” http://needtoknow.nas.edu/energy/energy-sources/
“Fossil Fuels vs. Renewable Energy” http://www.ecology.com/2011/09/06/fossil-fuels-vs-renewable-energy-resources/
Solar Energy Paper
Warner Pacific College
April 4, 2014
With the use of energy within our everyday lives with, electricity, cars, and even cell phones we need to look at how we will be able to continue with this type of consumption without eliminating our natural resources. We as a society are highly dependent on resources such as oil, natural gas, and coal. Oil being the most utilized is in high demand due to the fact it is becoming a highly limited resource. So what do we as a society do? We need to start looking into a more renewable such as solar, wind, or water. In my past career experience I have worked for a company SolarWorld. “As the largest U.S. solar manufacturer for more than 35 years, SolarWorld is uniquely recognized as America’s solar leader” (SolarWorld, 2013).With my experience within the manufacturing process of solar energy I want to explore the benefits of solar energy.
Solar energy is also known as “Solar photovoltaic generation, known as PV.” Solar energy has a much greater benefit to other such as water and wind. Wind technology is currently loud, and takes a great amount of space to utilize the machines as well as needs a great amount of wind with very little electrical outcome. Water energy I think is a more effective energy source than wind due to the fact we could implement a better dam system to utilize the dams we have already built. We unfortunately have not as a society been able to expand on the idea of water but I know some companies are exploring better options to utilize this resource. Solar energy however, is in the infancy of its technology. I think as they explore better materials to utilize the suns energy we will see more and more solar energy being utilized. Currently, solar energy is the most effective and condensed equipment to produce energy. “Based on comparative life-cycle analyses of power sources, “PV electricity contributes 96 percent to 98 percent less greenhouse gases than electricity generated from 100 percent coal and 92 percent to 96 percent less greenhouse gases than the European electricity mix,” said Carol Olson, a researcher at the Energy Research Center of the Netherlands. “Compared with electricity from coal, PV electricity over its lifetime uses 86 to 89 percent less water, occupies or transforms over 80 percent less land, presents approximately 95 percent lower toxicity to humans, contributes 92 to 97 percent less to acid rain, and 97 to 98 percent less to marine eutrophication,” she said. Eutrophication is the discharge of excess nutrients that causes algal blooms” (Powers, 2013). With these numbers solar energy by far is the safest and most effective source of energy within this wave of new energy technology.
Within my past experience the only problem with solar energy is the materials use. The solar companies are having difficulty with increasing the battery power of the cells within the panel. They are also looking into increasing the longevity of the solar panels themselves. As of right now solar panels last up to 20 years before needing to be replaced. “A typical solar panel produces around 200 watts of power. There’s a little bit of variation on this, based on the size and efficiency of the solar panel you choose; you’ll see panels that produce 205, 210, even 230 watts” (Llorens, 2012). This is only a fraction of you use within a day. This is where the technology does have room to expand.
Solar energy is by far the most prospective new energy source for society. There are growth opportunities within this technology that are limited to wind and water. If scientist and inventors discover a new material to create these cells than solar panels will be used by not just the few who can afford them but by all and will help not only us as society but our environment as well.
Llorens, D. (2012). How much electricity does a solar panel produce? Retrieved from Solar Power Rocks: http://www.solarpowerrocks.com/solar-basics/how-much-electricity-does-a-solar-panel-produce/
Powers, D. S. (2013, November 11). Solar Power Begins to Shine as Environmental Benefits Pay Off. Retrieved from The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/11/business/energy-environment/solar-power-begins-to-shine-as-environmental-benefits-pay-off.html?_r=2&
SolarWorld. (2013, January). Made in America. Retrieved from SolarWorld: http://www.solarworld-usa.com/why-choose-solarworld/solar-panels-made-in-usa
Warner Pacific College
April 5, 2014
As I reflected on this week’s assignment regarding society’s uses of energy, required me to do some inter-reflection on the ways I recall consuming energy in the past. First, I must establish a few parameters for the discussion. I am a member of large family, fourteen to be exact; as a young child, I can remember my parents contently saying; turn off those lights, turn off that television or turn off that radio if you are not going to be using them. Of course, being young and uninformed about the importance of conserving energy I did not ascertain or understand what my parents were trying to convey to my brothers and sisters. One must understand my dad worked for the power plant that provided the electricity for the city in with we resided which was probably the driving force behind the constant awareness of the importance of energy conservation; not to mention the cost of one’s electric bill.
Although my parents were in possession of a dryer, I can recall my mother hanging the family’s laundry on the clothes line my dad erected in the backyard of our home to conserve on the electricity bill. Furthermore, whenever I witness individuals hanging their clothes outdoors on clothes their clothesline these days it takes me right back to my childhood days when we were more energy conscience. I can also recall when we were more incline to take public transportation than we are today; this can be a result of one’s work schedule or the lack of coverage in one’s area. Another point I want to address is the ability we had as children to walk to our destinations without the risk of being abducted by some stranger looking to do us harm, unfortunately that is not the case today. I would love to allow my youngest daughter who is turning 14 to walk to school or a friend’s house to enjoy a day of play; however, because of the safety concerns I have outweigh my concerns to be energy efficient, therefore I burn the gas and drive her the few miles to her friends residence.
I believe the government should allow private companies to explore and develop alternatives to fossil fuels without interference from obstructionist like the many lobbyist that are in the pockets of certain politicians. For example, automaker Tesla is now in a legal battle with Washington State legislators because they want the automaker to adopt the dealership model verses allowing Tesla to work directly with their customers. This situation is very perplexing to me, here you have an automaker that is providing a green vehicle to the public at a reasonable price, but yet individuals with governmental influence is making it harder for the automaker to provide a product without adding additional cost to their customers. In an effort to preserve our natural resources for generations to come, we need to continue to explore ways of offering an alternative to oil and coal. We should also continue to champion our recycling efforts across the nation; bringing those states like New York and Texas onboard with the process. In closing, as we discussed in class we all must take personal responsibility to ensure we use our natural resources wisely; our consumption of energy must become a household discussion.
New York, NY, Pearson Benjamin Cummings. ISBN-13:978-0-321-89742-8
Warner Pacific College
April 2nd, 2014
When it comes to energy, there’s a huge conflict between our dependencies. Humans are consuming more energy than ever. However, the largest energy consumers are generally not the largest energy producers, and their respective territories are often very geographically distant. While more and more territories are engaging in energy development projects, thus provoking the ire of environmentalists, the transportation of this energy over long distances has itself become a geopolitical issue.
This situation has led some territories to become very dependent on others for their energy. For example, the United States, which consumes a quarter of the world oil production, must import about two thirds of the oil it uses.
This increasing dependence is also fuelling more and more serious political tensions. On a global level, oil has become a major factor in an increasing number of conflicts. In past report on the November 2009 U.S. trade deficit found that rising oil imports widened our deficit, increasing the gap between our imports and exports. This is but one example that our economic recovery and long-term growth is inexorably linked to our reliance on foreign oil. The United States is spending approximately $1 billion a day overseas on oil instead of investing the funds at home, where our economy sorely needs it. Burning oil that exacerbates global warming also poses serious threats to our national security and the world’s security. For these reasons we need to kick the oil addiction by investing in clean-energy reform to reduce oil demand, while taking steps to curb global warming.
In 2008 the United States imported oil from 10 countries currently on the State Department’s Travel Warning List, which lists countries that have “long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable.” These nations include Algeria, Chad, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Our reliance on oil from these countries could have serious implications for our national security, economy, and environment. Further, the regimes and elites that economically benefit from rich energy resources rarely share oil revenues with their people, which worsens economic disparity in the countries and at times creates resource-driven tension and crises. The State Department cites oil-related violence in particular as a danger in Nigeria, where more than 54 national oil workers or businesspeople have been kidnapped at oil-related facilities and other infrastructure since January 2008. Attacks by insurgents on the U.S. military and civilians continue to be a danger in Iraq.
Our oil dependence will also be increasingly harder and more dangerous to satisfy. In 2008 the United States consumed 23 percent of the world’s petroleum, 57 percent of which was imported. Yet the United States holds less than 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves. Roughly 40 percent of our imports came from Canada, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia, but we can’t continue relying on these allies. The majority of Canada’s oil lies in tar sands, a very dirty fuel, and Mexico’s main oil fields are projected dry up within a decade. Without reducing our dependence on oil we’ll be forced to increasingly look to more antagonistic and volatile countries that pose direct threats to our national security.
The unfortunate reality is that the Middle East remains the strategic center of gravity of the global oil market-a position that is not likely to change in the medium term. As long as radical Islam, China, India, and Europe continue the struggle for the world's limited oil supply in the Middle East, the region will remain unstable. If the U.S. is to protect itself from these economic and political threats, it must reduce its dependence on Middle Eastern oil as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Anjaneyulu Yerramilli, F. T. (2013). Energy Resources, Utilization & Technologies. CRC Press.
Gangidi, A. B. (2012). Alternative Energy Resources. LAP Lambert Academic Publishing AG & Co. KG.
Pathak, H. (2013). Renewable Energy Resources. CreateSpace Publishing.