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Alternative energy options include all environmentally sustainable energy sources that cannot be depleted. Solar energy, wind energy, geothermal energy, and hydroelectric energy are examples of these energy sources (Fehl & Pamela, 65). Other choices include biomass oil, ocean energy, and hydrogen energy. Because of the consequences of climate change, the United Nations organization in charge of the environment, the United Nations Environmental Program, encourages the use of these energy sources (Richards & Julie, 59). The UNEP body is made up of all the UN member states, and it is involved in the organizations, agencies, and private sector undertakings of the United Nations itself. The assembly was constituted to ensure all the countries met commitments made by the UN member states (Fehl & Pamela, 35). This body aims to deliver the voluntary promises made by all the member states, provide the resolutions and decisions adopted by these countries to address the industrial pollutions released are applied and help clean up the planet by setting environment-friendly standards to be met by all member countries (Richards & Julie, 59).
While the use of alternative energy is encouraged in countries, its uptake is not high, and many individuals are still using the traditional sources of energy. These energy sources include fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, and oil which constitute almost two-thirds of the world energy consumption. Many countries rely on oil and natural gas as their primary source of revenue hence cannot do away with the drilling and selling of these products quickly because of the role they play in the country's GDP. Middle East countries such as Dubai, Iran, and Iraq are entirely dependent on oil and gas exports. While some of them as trying to change their attention to other sources like domestic tourism and business, they have not yet wholly done away with the production of these products.
Another traditional source of energy which the UNEP is trying to do away with but has not been fruitful is coal. Traditionally, coal has been used in many countries as the primary source of energy because it is cheaper and it is in great abundance in the producing countries such as the United States of America compared to electricity and use of oil (Fehl & Pamela, 55). For instance, before the turn of this century, over 50% of the industries in the USA relied on the use of coal as the primary source of energy. Coal is still used in a number of countries like South Africa and Japan by industries in the mining sector. In addition to a cheaper source of power, coal provides nations with job opportunities for its citizens since a number of people are required to mine, transport and sell it (Stolten & Detlef 46). According to sources in the EIA, the number of coal generating facilities is estimated to be about 500 and over 100 manufacturing units which are spread out across the United States only (Richards & Julie, 79). This amounts to over 100,000 people employed, and they pay billions in taxes every year providing the national government with a lot of revenue.
Considering the mentioned benefits, individuals tend to argue that there is no need to do away with coal as an energy source, but in most cases, they are wrong because they do not look at the effects of coal (Stolten & Detlef 46). Every government understands that coal plays a significant role in polluting the environment and producing harmful gases. These toxic gases include carbon dioxide, sulfuric acid, and nitrogen oxide. These emissions are harmful to people, animals, and the environment. For instance, these gases have caused global warming which has negatively affected the climate of the whole world. The sulfur dioxide gas released by burning coal has produced acid rain in many places which have destroyed the natural environment and killed animals who are rained on. The lives and health of the individuals who mine are also put at risk when they come into contact with coal. Coal, being a mineral found deep in the ground, has to be extracted by building trenches and caves in the ground. In any case when these trenches cave-in, the lives of the miners are lost. The real risk of these is on the health of the miners and the people living near coal mines. Whenever a coal mine is developed in a region, people who have settled around the place have to be displaced to pave the way for mining. Replacing of people leads to individuals starting their lives in other areas and maybe under-compensated in the process. The miners themselves are exposed to harmful chemicals that pose health risks to them such as lung cancer, damage to the nervous system and other respiratory diseases.
The Earth Organization, one of the Non for profit organizations in charge of conserving the environment, has built a reputation for its bold initiatives aimed at protecting the lives of miners of coal because in most situations the parent companies do not pay attention to their health yet they get billions in revenue. The organization was formed by a former coal miner who almost lost his life in the process of mining coal. One of the main agendas of this group is to protect wildlife and conserve the natural environment by ensuring mining companies pay attention to the natural ecosystem. The organization has been recognized for its effort to reduce the use of coal in the world since it was formed. Some of the awards it has received for this include the Earth Trustee Award and the Rotary International Fellowship for outstanding contribution to the ideals of the Rotary.
Arguments on the role played by the traditional sources of energy over time have always been centered on the benefits accrued by individuals from these sources of energy without looking into the harm caused. For instance, activist groups formed to push for the use of traditional sources of energy lack the basic knowledge about the damage these sources cause to the atmosphere of the planet. Other groups claim the use of these renewable sources of energy is too expensive for governments to manage. This claim can be validated because some of the projects required for installing and running such energy sources are high, but other cheaper sources are available such as the use of solar energy. The cost of starting a large-scale wind-mill project can be compared to that of mining coal from the ground. Both of them require vast amounts of capital concerning starting up and running while mining is more dangerous because it needs more workforce on a daily basis (Brauch, 298).
The other common argument against renewable sources of energy like windmill projects is it cannot be reliable for use (Morgan & Sally, 80). Take as an example; the latest proposes plan to produce electricity from offshore wind in the United Kingdom. According to analysts, the project requires over 20,000 wind turbines set along the coastline across a stretch of 3,000 miles. This project will need billions of capital to start, and it cannot be relied on as a source of energy because in case the wind stops there will be no energy produced. This will make the industries and people relying on the wind generated power unable to perform some of their work. While this claim can be thought to be valid, it should be recognized that the project does not have any effect on the surrounding regions as compared to coal which is the commonly used source of energy (Jablonski, 44).
Some society groups opposed to the use of renewable energy argue out that whereas the power is good for the environment, it is not big enough in many countries in the world hence governments are reluctant to use it (Morgan & Sally, 89). This claim is false because a survey carried out in developing countries in the last five years showed many countries are slowly turning to renewable energy sources as the primary source of energy for industries, homes, and institutions which traditionally used non-renewable sources of energy. For example, China which is considered the most significant economy at the moment, has non-renewable energy sources projects worth billions of dollars in the pipelines (Higgins & Melissa, 125). When these projects are complete, the government estimates that over half of the country's households are industries will rely on either wind power or solar energy for use. This will be one of the landmarks the nation aims to achieve in line with the rules of the United Nations Environmental Program body.
The use of Biofuels as a source of alternative energy has been on the rice in recent years with countries being encouraged to invest more in it. This energy is derived from plants by fermentation and can be used in both small and large scale (Higgins & Melissa, 75). Small-scale production can be done in homes, schools and individual factories while large-scale production can be done for community use in different areas which do not rely on other sources of energy. One important thing to consider is the gas produced from biofuels can be used in the transport sector to move engines and locomotives over long-distances. This provides individuals with an environmentally friendly energy source which is cheaper to produce.
Another sustainable power source that can be utilized is hydrogen which is the most common gas on Earth (Battaglini, 47). In this process, hydrogen is separated from water and used to produce electricity. The motivating reason for turning to hydrogen is it does not create any toxic gases; therefore, it is considered environmentally friendly. However, this process is in its early stages of production and the energy produced is only available in small-scale production. It will take more time before large-scale production levels are reached.
Another source of energy to be considered is ocean energy which is produced from ocean water on both small and large scale (Morgan & Sally, 109). There are three ways for production of power from the oceans which cover almost 70% of the earth surface. These include using tidal and wave energy and using thermal energy conversion. For tidal energy, generators use the rise and fall of tides to convert the kinetic energy of the waves into electricity (Steenblik, and Joy Kim, 44). This can be produced on a large scale since tides affect every coastline and they are predictable. On the other side, wave energy is also created in the same manner as tidal energy but from waves. The disadvantage of producing this kind of power is it may affect the natural marine ecosystem in locations where it is set up, and it is suitable for only specific places in the sea.
More organizations are required to come up and support the use of renewable energy sources in each country since the efforts by the UN body in charge of the environment are not bearing success yet (Higgins & Melissa, 95). If more people come together and push for these changes in the energy industry, the global warming being experienced will reduce, and governments will implement projects that are environmentally friendly.
In conclusion, the factors I have stated above and others which I have not mention are required to be considered by both governments and activist groups before implementation of any project is arrived at. Everyone should consider the impact to be generated from any project before it is implemented and the safety of the environment should be the key motivating factor for all groups involved. Renewable sources of energy should be considered because of the benefits they provide for both the people and the environment.
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Jablonski, Sophie. "The Mediterranean Solar Plan: Poject Proposals for Renewable Energy in the Mediterranean Partner Countries Region." Energy Policy. 44 (2012). Print.
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Steenblik, Ronald, and Joy Kim. "Facilitating Trade in Selected Climate Change Mitigation Technologies in the Energy Supply, Buildings, and Industry Sectors." (2009). Print.
Stolten, Detlef. Hydrogen Energy. Wiley-VCH, 2010.
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