Paul Barnum III
PHS 100A Environmental Studies
Warner Pacific College
April 5, 2014
In today’s society, the consumption of the earth’s energy resources is at an all-time high. In America, what we as a society consider normal energy consumption would be viewed by people in less developed countries as excessive use. I know in my day to day life, I use energy all of the time and do not even think about where it comes from or how much I am using. This mentality can become a real problem moving forward into the future. In this paper, I will discuss or society’s dependence on energy resources as well as talk about the opportunities and challenges that developing alternative energy sources can bring in the future.
In today’s environment there are many different kinds of energy resources. In order to have the type of convenience we Americans like to have, “humanity has devised many ways to harness the renewable and nonrenewable forms of energy available on our planet”
(Withgott & Laposata, 2013, p. 520). In today’s society we use all
kinds of energy. “We use these
energy sources to heat and light our homes; power our machinery; fuel our
vehicles; produce plastics; pharmaceuticals, and synthetic fiber; and provide
the comforts and conveniences which we’ve grown accustomed to in the industrial
age” (Withgott & Laposata, 2013, p. 520).
While we use some of these energy resources out of necessity, a lot of the energy we use is out of convenience and we use it in excess without even thinking about the long term effects it might have on the environment. About four weeks ago, the garage door opener for my garage door broke. When my wife got home, you would have thought it was the end of the world! She wanted me to stay home from work the next day and get it fixed so she could park in our garage without having to get out of the car to open the door. This is a great example of how we think we cannot live without certain things we have grown accustomed to having in our lives and they are all out of convenience. I am happy to report, it has been four weeks and the garage door opener has not been fixed and my wife is still alive and well. She can go on living even with the garage door opener broken!
Another good example of how we use energy in excess is the automatic engine start most of the new cars today have. It is amazing to me that we think we need to start our cars in our driveway 15 minutes before we have to leave so it is warm inside. What a complete waste of energy! I think in America we have taken wasting energy to a whole new level and the main reason is out of convenience.
When I think about what opportunities we have in the future to develop alternative systems to satisfy our energy needs, I get really frustrated. A good example of this is the electric car. This hybrid, electric car technology has been around for years and it is just now becoming available in mainstream America. Why is it so hard to introduce new technology into society today? The answer is money. The large gas and oil companies do not want to see electric cars on the road as it will cut into the profits they make. Governmental red tape and special interest lobbying groups also make it challenging to introduce new technology. Even though this new technology uses much less energy and is also cleaner, it feels like any time ideas and technology like this are introduced, it gets shut down before it even has a chance to be implemented into society. It seems like it always takes many years, just like the example of the hybrid cars that are out today.
While thinking about our energy consumption and the future makes me feel frustrated and guilty all at the same time, I realize that as a society we are not going to give up all of our comfort and convenience to conserve energy. I do however think we can be much more conscious about what types and how much energy we use. Simple things like turning off lights when nobody is in the room to not starting your car 15 minutes before you actually get in it to drive to work can make a big difference. In addition, we also need to hold our government and big businesses accountable for continuing to make it difficult to introduce new technologies especially when these new technologies are cleaner and more efficient types of energy. I feel that accountability and making smart decisions on how we are consuming the energy we are so fortunate to have are the keys to ensuring that we have energy resources to draw from now and into the future.
Withgott, J., & Laposata, M. (2013). Environment: the science behind the stories (5th Ed.). New York: Pearson Benjamin Cummings.