Sustainability is:
a balance in environmental, social, and economic consideration of all components of the world's living and non-living systems. To fit into this balance, humanity must achieve resilience, continued learning, and consciousness of our relationship with the Earth.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Role of Renewable Energy Today

I am passionate about all forms of renewable energy. I know there are drawbacks, and there always will be. But what humans need to look at is the bigger picture. Energy demand is always going to be high, no matter how many conservation efforts are made. Renewable energy is really the only way humans can continue their lifestyle, which, realistically speaking is never going to change as much as environmentalists would like it to, without getting their electricity from a fossil fuel burning source. Do we want to continue to deplete the world of its fossil fuels, poisoning the environment while we’re at it, or implement cleaner methods to generate this energy without taking anything from the earth? What we need to do is make more wind turbines and solar panels with what resources we have left, then put a stop to the corrupt and degrading industry of fossil fuels and rely solely on the power of the sun, the wind, and to a certain extent the world’s water sources.

The movie Dreamland gave me a shocking perspective from the other side of this argument pertaining mostly to hydroelectric power generation. Yes, dams are bad, but maybe not as bad as the effects fossil fuels have on similar ecosystems? Our focus should shift to wind and sun: We should take advantage of what will always exist. As long as there is an earth, there will always be wind, and there will always be sunlight. There may or may not always be water, and we should save what is left of that as best we can, because clean fresh water is one of the world’s biggest problems right now.

It is inspiring to see one small country like Iceland use so little nonrenewable energy. Shouldn’t the United States be taking better advantage of its geothermal resources on the west coast? I cannot wait until the first offshore wind farm gets built, and how that can cause other wind projects currently in the planning phases to spring into action. These positive changes towards a more sustainable future require a change in attitude. Yes, we lead comfortable lives. I have had clean water and limitless electricity my entire life. No, I did not know where my electricity at home came from until I had to look it up for a project here, but that is an easy enough step for those who are unaware to figure out. If everyone knew how important renewable energy is to the United States, there would be so much more support. Californians wanted the electric car, and protested when they were taken away. Watching auto companies destroy electric cars so they could continue to make problematic and repair-necessary gasoline cars to make more money made me so angry. That is the epitome of what is wrong with this world and a perfect example of the lack of sustainability.

Now, Americans want clean energy. America needs clean energy. Yes, it is expensive, but more often than not it will just take a few years before a renewable energy installation will pay for itself. I would like to see renewable energy promoted more back home, and I would love to see everyone who can afford solar panels to get them or to select the option on their electric bill to have part of their electricity come from a renewable source. These are the first steps that will inspire others to take a more open-minded approach to helping reverse climate change, and maybe think about implementing cleaner energy and conservation efforts themselves. When one person sets an example, others will follow. This is how humans work. We just need the example to be big enough to actually have an effect, and before we know it the average household could be running their appliances on clean renewable energy sources.

-Lily Alverson

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