Everyone will have heard about climate change and the effect it is having on the planet, it has recently been in the news that the earth has increased it’s average temperature by 1c over the last decade, putting it halfway towards the so-called ‘danger zone’ that a 2c increase in temperature would cause. With the worlds population ever increasing and the entire planet’s population striving for higher standards of living and countries all looking to advance their economies, there has never been a greater demand for energy. The only way to avoid an environmental disaster is to meet these increasing energy demands through sustainable sources.
The clearest sustainable source of energy that we have is the Sun. It not only delivers warmth and light to the earth but it can also be harnessed to convert its energy into electrical power. Solar Panels are now an easily identifiable renewable energy system that can be found not only up and down the UK, but also across the world. Other forms of sustainable energy can come from the wind and air via wind turbines and air source heat pumps. There are also the carbon neutral biomass fuels, such as wood. Biomass is classed as sustainable as the wood has consumed the same amount of carbon dioxide as it is re-releasing back into the atmosphere. So, we have sustainable energy available to use, but what are the main reasons for pursuing this course rather than the use of fossil fuels as we have since the industrial revolution.
As the world becomes a smaller place to live with affordable flights and transport, and with trade links between continents more open then ever before, there are some booming economies and emerging super powers. A good example of this would be China, who have undergone a rapid economic development resulting in great numbers of the population moving into heightened brackets of prosperity.
This growing middle-class, as you could call it, has made China the worlds largest consumer of energy with washing machines, refrigerators and air conditioners now common place across homes in the country. Along with this there is an estimate 1 in 10 people that live in the cities owning a car, seeing fuel consumption increase along with all other types of consumption. Despite these modern advancements the standard of life in China is still nowhere near western standards and the same can be said of other emerging consumer nations such as India and Brazil.
Whilst there are small steps that can be taken to reduce consumerism in these countries, and every other country in the world, it is not enough to replace the need of the energy. People will continue to consume energy, therefore a sustainable source is needed to meet these needs sooner rather than later.
Fossil Fuel Supply Levels
An argument that the majority of people in the western hemisphere will be familiar with, the levels of fossil fuels will be dropping to near critical levels within a lifetime. Some estimates from the International Energy Agency suggests that the oil and gas reserves worldwide will drop by between 40% and 60% within the next twenty years.
There is a large amount of natural gas still within the earth, however this is now becoming harder and harder to extract, with controversial methods like fracking being adopted to break into these reserves. The other energy where there is still an abundance is coal, although converting this to energy is very dirty and the CO2 in the production is one of the main contributing factors to the greenhouse effect and global warming. The final method to look at in this section is the use of nuclear power, this method of using Uranium does not emit any greenhouse gasses but is no less controversial. The worry with anything nuclear is the risk of radiation and the requirement to store radioactive waste for a long time after its use – for some the Chernobyl disaster is still fresh in the mind and acts as a clear deterrent to the use of nuclear power.
Climate change is arguably the buzzword of the 21st century, it refers to the emission of greenhouse gasses, predominantly carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere which causes a rise in temperatures and therefore a rise in the sea levels. This has a huge effect on almost everything on the planet with biodiversity, weather patterns, fresh water supplies, agricultural supplies and the safety of those dwelling in low-lying coastal residences amongst the vast number. Whilst there I an argument that global warming is part of a natural warming and cooling of the planet, there are studies that suggest that human activity is probably responsible for the raises in global warming over the past 50 years.
The prospect of long-lasting changes to the face of our planet is enough for most to look into sustainable energy and adopting some of these methods to produce cleaner and more efficient energy for their home and businesses.
Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer in the property industry – working alongside a selection of companies including South East based central heating and boiler specialists BSW BS, who were consulted over the information contained in this piece.