"Visions of World Benefit & Global Responsibility: Perspectives of McGill Students

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Renewal and Sustainable Energy

In the olden times, the power to do things came from natural and human sources, human muscles, wind, and water. Human muscles could dig up, knock down, carry, and build; animal muscles could pull wagons and plows; and wind and water could move sailing ships, rafts, and canoes. These are all renewable. Muscles would keep working, rivers would keep flowing, and wind would keep blowing. But now, the use of fossil fuels has increased. In modern times, humans found ways to use new technology to make river power mills and wind turn windmills to pump water.
The earth is the main source of all our energy. All of our electricity is produced by the earth's resources such as coal or natural gases, the essential one being fossil fuels. The danger of fossil fuels is that they release carbon dioxide. This gas acts like an invisible blanket, trapping more of the sun’s energy in the atmosphere, causing the earth to warm up. A common term is the grasshopper effect, because the toxins “hop” from place to place. Scientists say that’s why some newborn polar bears have become blind and weak. They have been poisoned by the industrial toxins in their mother’s milk, due to the grasshopper effect.
The economy’s sustainable living goal is to replace renewable resources at the same rate at which we use them. In other words, for every tree planted and left to grow to maturity we harvest another tree, a new gallon of unpolluted freshwater made available for every galloon we contaminate, a square mile of ocean left uncompleted for every square mile we fish, and so forth.
The different types of renewable energy’s are: Solar energy, in which the sun is our main source of giving off heat, light, radio waves, and even x-rays. Sunlight is an excellent source of heat and electricity. Solar energy is used for: telecommunication towers, agricultural applications, tropical countries, heated swimming pools, and so on.
Wind energy, which has been used for over a thousand years, to carry ships across oceans, to pump water and to grind grain. Biomass energy is any form of plant or animal tissue. In terms of energy, biomass refers to wood, straw, biological waste such as manure, or other energy nutrient filled materials.
For future concerns our world has a lot to worry about. Today more than 6 billion humans walk the Earth, and more are added each day. Experts think we may have until the end of this century, perhaps longer, before vital resources start hitting serious limits. We can start gaining control only by reducing humanity’s ecological footprint. Some strategies that we can use are: drip irrigation, marine sanctuaries, hybrid cars, and solar energy units. All these things can lower our short term expectations for the long term good of all life on earth.


1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_energy
2) http://re.pembina.org/
3) Class Notes. Chemistry of the Environment. John Abbott College. Fall 2006.Prof.Shahid Jalil

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