This post is part of the series Eleanor on the Environment.
As our understanding of science and the natural world expands, we continue to develop technology that helps combat the changing climate. However, it is important to first understand what is contributing to climate change in the first place. Scientists have found that the carbon emissions from the electricity we generate and the vehicles we drive, pollute the earth’s atmosphere and are warming the planet. These carbon emissions come from the fossil fuels burned to create energy. Energy from fossil fuels is what makes 90% of our world run. The other 10% is the up and coming renewable energy resources.
The population of the world is growing rapidly. This means that more and more people want cars, refrigerators, washing machines, etc to use in their daily lives. All of these items need energy. Even the hamburgers that we eat take an abundance of energy to produce. Seven billion people live on this earth and if they all crave appliances and hamburgers our energy demands will expand. However, these energy demands are corrupting our planet’s atmosphere. We have come to the point in history where renewable energy is what could be the difference between mass extinction and survival.
Solar panels in Arizona
There are many new renewable energy sources. Every year it seems that it is easier to find articles about the newest sustainable technologies. Some of these include wind turbines, solar panels, geothermal heating, and so much more. All come with their own pros and cons. As the technology of these sustainable energy sources improve, problems that have limited their popularity have been reduced or eliminated.. For example, solar panels were criticized for taking up too much space. They need lots of surface area to soak up the sun’s rays. In recent years, solar panels have been made to take up less space and there are even new advances in making paint available to harness the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity. This is a great example of how technology can adapt to desires of buyers.
The biggest issue with renewable energy is the prices. The way in which people get clean energy is from having deep pockets. Although the prices have dropped on things like solar panels, people who are marginalized don’t have the same access to expensive items like this and are forced to rely on fossil fuels. Another issue is the lack of education in public schools especially surrounding climate change. When a family’s first concern is being able to feed everyone, problems surrounding the environment are not at the forefront for their lives. What makes this issue even worse is that marginalized people such as Native Americans and African Americans are the ones who end up being exploited by big corporations. Large companies whose only priority is making profit use people and their resources at disposal. A common example of this is factories polluting the water of a town or community. According to the EPA “since 1987, various industries have dumped about 600 million pounds of toxic substances, including ammonia and nitrates into the river.” This means that the 15% of Americans who depend on untreated surface water, are being exposed to all different kinds of toxins.
After President Trump rolled back restrictions that President Obama had put on the water waste, power plants were able to dump their pollutants into near-by rivers.
A huge part of converting to clean energy is getting the government on board. There has to be action taken to prevent harmful companies from disrupting the environment. Specific action needs to be taken by funding research programs that help towards the effort of 100% clean energy. There also needs to be more regulation on where toxins are dumped. With certain political actions the roadblocks that encourage climate change will slowly dissipate. Without help from the government big cooperation will have power to continue their cycle of mistreatment for the environment and people.
Blufish. “Arizona Solar Capacity Ranks Third in the Nation.” AZ Big Media, July 18, 2019. https://azbigmedia.com/business/arizona-energy-industry/arizona-solar-capacity-ranks-third-in-the-nation/.
“Crystal Paint for Solar Panels Could Innovate Renewable Energy.” AltEnergyMag. Accessed March 31, 2021. https://www.altenergymag.com/article/2020/01/crystal-paint-for-solar-panels-could-innovate-renewable-energy/32623.
Miller, G. Tyler, and Scott Spoolman. Living in the Environment: Principles, Connections, and Solutions. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning, 2015.
Schneider, News21 StaffJasmine Spearing-BowenKarl, News21 Staff, Jasmine Spearing-Bowen, and Karl Schneider. “Industrial Waste Pollutes America’s Drinking Water.” Center for Public Integrity. Accessed March 31, 2021. https://publicintegrity.org/environment/industrial-waste-pollutes-americas-drinking-water/#:~:text=Since%201987%2C%20various%20industries%20have,water%20systems%20before%20it’s%20used.
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