Energy And The Environment
Free (open access)
O. T. Inal, P. F. Gerity & D. D. H. López
Energy is one of the major ingredients required for human sustenance and comfort. Yet, energy has an environmental impact at every stage of its acquisition as well as its use. We produce significant environmental waste and impact extracting energy, transporting the extracted material(s), and in processing it to render it useable. The global warming gases generated and the associated effects represent only a small sample of the serious by-products of our energy use, and only a fraction of the devastation that we presently bestow on our planet. Presently, we are all aware that the price of one barrel of crude oil has exceeded the $75.00 level for the first time in history, and the negative impact on our individual economics as well as that affecting the industrialized world is such that every segment of our quality of life and living standard is threatened. These increased costs do not produce any direct benefit to the planet, but only contribute to the total global decline of living conditions and standards. The actual monetary benefit is only enjoyed by a very few as well. Currently, the only fuel source alternative which seems to be considered politically acceptable involves the conversion of biomass (such as maize, sugar cane, other vegetable sources or use[s]) into bio-fuels to partially replace the shrinking supply of traditional sources of hydrocarbons. However, there is a finite and limited amount of arable land that can efficiently produce and successfully harvest biomass. All human needs for food and fiber must compete for access to this land area with any proposed use for energy production. The competition among food, fiber and fuel is already very stressed, and the use of bio-mass is not a viable, long-term solution to the problem. This paper identifies fuel sources, the quantities currently available, and projections for the future. The areas of solar, wind, hydrogen, and renewed interest in nuclear power are all considered. It is our effort to put these alternative options into a more realistic light. Keywords: energy, biomass, biodiversity, pollution, fusion, fission.
energy, biomass, biodiversity, pollution, fusion, fission.