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/