Amy Bianchi                                                                                        


Pathway Towards Efficiency Begins Formation


One of the key challenges to enhance energy security and promote greater harmony throughout the world is by achieving affordable energy access for people in the world who currently do not now have it.  Additionally, we are using increasing amounts of harmful fossil fuels every day to meet increased demand that negatively affects everything in the world.  In order to take care of our environment we need to be able to make good use of the renewable resources available to us.  Sustainable Energy can be peaceful energy, but only if a method can be found to supply energy to everyone at a reasonable cost, eliminating the value of energy as a source of conflict or war.  The true challenge is to develop these low or non-polluting sources of energy, making them readably available everywhere on the earth at a low cost.


            Over the last few years the number of people consuming large quantities of energy has increased considerably.  We are seeing rapid industrial growth in places such as China and India. There is an emerging middle class of people with greater income that cam be used on new cars, homes and the energy required for both.  These changes in society have people driving farther to work, home and businesses.  In turn, we are using more fossil fuels because they are currently available and lower cost than alternative fuels.  This creates more carbon dioxide that enters into the atmosphere leading to environmental hazards such are ozone depletion, global warming and air quality (health) issues. 


There are economic advantages to using fossil fuels instead of alternative materials including easy transportation, high efficiencies, and availability.  However, fossil fuels are not a sustainable energy source and will only increase in cost, reduced availability, and use as a global political tool. One way to reverse this trend is by developing renewable resources such as wind or solar power, and adapting current fossil fuel technologies to become more efficient or remove the fossil fuel entirely. 


One new idea is the space-based solar power system.  Scientists envision being able to beam energy to developing countries from space based collectors because there is eight to ten times more solar energy accessible in space than on earth.  Hybrid cars rely on batteries that recharge themselves using excess engine power and can get 50 miles to the gallon. In the future, hydrogen fuel cell technologies are even more promising, with cars running on water.  Currently, however, high costs prevent fuel cells from being a viable option.  Improvements to these technologies are critical to their use as a replacement for fossil fuels.  Any energy source that is subject to high cost or limited technology cannot be considered sustainable or peaceful.


In emerging economies, where new technologies are not economically available, different methods need to be used to reduce fossil fuel usage, environmental hazards and the possibility of energy as a source of conflict.  Instead of using renewable resources, you can reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by using fuel-efficient vehicles, car pools, and public transportation. You can conserve energy in your home by purchasing more efficient appliances, turning off unused computers and lights, and replacing incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent. Insulating and weatherproofing homes and also planting large trees provides shade to the house and will help to cut back on heating and air costs.


            Fossil fuels cannot be considered sustainable energy or peaceful energy when the burning of fossil fuels damages the ecosystems and the environment or can lead to disputes of its availability.  Mining coal destroys large areas of land, disrupting the food chain and animal survival.  “Exploratory drilling” for new sources of fossil fuel will cause considerable damage to the ecosystem.  The transfer of fossil fuels can also lead to environmental disaster.


On March 24, 1989 Exxon Valdez crashed into Bligh Reef killing 30,000 birds, and 3,500-5,000 sea otters.  Today, people are still trying to restore the area that was heavily damaged by the pipeline spill.  The harmful chemicals emitted from the fossil fuel combustion can be carcinogenic. Global warming is also helping the spread of mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, and west Nile virus.  In spite of all the evidence against fossil fuel use, the driving force remains cost and availability.


I believe that we are digging our own graves if we continue to exploit fossil fuel consumption.  People who feel that they should and can drill into uninhabited ecosystems to satisfy their own personal needs need to think about the long-term effects rather than the short term.  As long as it is more profitable to use fossil fuels, they will be the first and foremost energy source.  We need to develop an energy answer or answers that are available to everyone.  Once we have taken the control of energy away from individuals – and with it the power over people’s lives – then we will have found a sustainable peaceful energy alternative.  With help from governments, consumers, and energy companies we can look bright into the future of being able to reduce the effects of global warming and hope to create a place where our kids and their kids will be able to play together in peace.


Works Cited


Audesirk, Teresa, Gerald Audesirk, and Bruce E. Byers. Life on Earth. 3rd ed. New Jersey: Pearson Education, 2003.