“The fact that oil is a “finite” material is not a problem…Every material is finite. Life is all about taking the theoretically finite but practically limitless materials in nature and creatively turning them into useful resources. The fossil fuel industry does it, the “renewable”—actually, the “unreliable”—energy industry doesn’t. End of story.” – Alex Epstien.
Fossil Fuels like coal, oil and natural gas are formed after millions of years of processing of the plants and animals that existed then. The earliest known fossil fuel deposits are from about 500 million years ago, when most of the major groups of animals first appeared on Earth. Currently, we are (over)dependent on fossil fuels to heat our homes, run our cars, power our offices, industry and manufacturing. 87% of our energy demands are fulfilled by burning fossil fuels. At this rate of (over)consumption we are going to be left with no fossil fuels for the future and also emitting lots of Green House Gases in the process. For example,
Renewable energy is derived from natural processes like sunlight and wind. They can be used to generate power and cooling systems. Renewable energy, collectively provides only about 7 percent of the world’s energy needs. Burning fossil fuels creates carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas emitter that contributes to global warming, which hit its peak in 2012. In the last 30 years, temperatures have risen to the warmest since records began. If we continue to pump greenhouse gases into our environment. The average global temperature could increase by 1 to 4 degrees by 2100.
This graph based on the comparison of atmospheric samples contained in ice cores and more recent direct measurements, provides evidence that atmospheric CO2 has increased since the Industrial Revolution.
With the advent of 20th century, Humans pace of Industrialization increased. And for getting there, they started using various fossil fuels, which has led to the heating up of atmosphere. Estimates depict that the fossil fuel reserves have been going down for the past 50-100 years and the rate has been increasing further. Our need to prosper more and more cannot be just fulfilled by finishing the resources in hand. It is the high time that we realize the importance of renewable resources, which have less side effects as compared to the fossil fuels. Predictions estimate that energy demands may Increase by three times by 2035, But it is a saddening truth that more than 1.2 billion people still do not have access to electricity. With this increasing population, which is predicted to touch 9 billion by 2050, energy demands will always be on the higher side.
Scientists maintain that the impact of global warming on the environment is widespread. In the Arctic and Antarctica, warmer temperatures are melting ice, which leads to increases in sea levels and alters the composition of the surrounding sea water. Rising sea levels impacts on settlements, agriculture and fishing both commercially and recreationally. Air pollution is also a direct result of the use of fossil fuels, resulting in smog and the degradation of human health and plant growth. There is the negative impact on natural ecosystems that result from collecting fossil fuels, particularly coal and oil. There is also the continuing threat of oil spills that devastate ecosystems and the impact of mining on land vitality.
The problem today lying in front of us is of change. Government and Industry both understand that renewable energy is future. But since the requirement is quite high and the infrastructure to make a shift is very less, this looks a distant dream. However, a start to increase the production of energy through renewable resources is the need of the time, because the basic requirement of wind and sun remains easily available and is eco friendly.
“Eventually, the degree to which we depend on fossil fuels will have to lessen as the planet’s known supplies diminish, the difficulty and cost of tapping remaining reserves increases, and the effect of their continued use on our planet grows more dire. But shifting to new energy sources will take time which we don’t have”
“The number one way to cut emissions quickly and get back to 350ppm is to stop burning dirty coal as soon as possible. Without coal, we must find a way to make cheap, renewable energy widely available in order to ensure all communities the right to develop cleanly.” Credits: (350.org 2013)
If we contemplate the finite dimension of our earth and our (over)consumption of our natural environment, the reality of extinction spreads beyond fossil fuels. Soil quality needs to taken care of. Erosion of top soil is a natural phenomenon, but with this also minerals get depleted. And with the pollution of soil becoming an increasing problem, soil quality is something which needs to be considered. Also, the scarcity of fresh water reservoirs is becoming an issue. These aquifers have been replenishing for thousands of years are now falling apart indirectly due to over use of fossil fuels. Cutting of trees has decreased our green belt significantly. And our trees are diminishing faster than they are being planted which is a huge problem currently. Ore Quality is another issue. Minerals form a very heavy chunk of our earth crust. With the decrease in high quality ores, only low quality ores are being left, because of which the production has come down significantly where these low quality ores are being used. Lastly, in this process to grow at a faster rate, we are ruining our own habitats and hampering our creatures life too. With this much pollution surrounding us, it is the high time to rethink of our approach towards the basic requirements of mankind. We must understand, if we kept on using the resources under the earth crust, we are digging our own grave, and now at a faster rate. CO2, heavy metals, noise, smog, fine particles, radiation are everywhere and gives winds to pollution rise.
In light of these ‘costs’ of fossil fuels, renewable energy is a solid alternative to meet the energy demands of our world. It may take few years before we reach there, but yes a small leap for the future of this mankind is the need of the time!