A Short Essay on Renewable Energy Now

February 18, 2012 | By | 2 Replies More

            Energy has become an extremely hot topic for Americans over the last couple of years, with reasons for our energy concerns ranging from environmental to political to financial. Despite differing reasons, it is clear that the solution to our energy problems is to transition from traditional energy sources to renewable energy sources, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions, ending our dependence on foreign oil, and eliminating our world record transfer of wealth to oil producing nations.

Some scientists claim the global warming  we are experiencing is not manmade. There are also critics who argue that renewable energy sources have severe drawbacks, such as having to use natural resources to produce a wind mill, or using large amounts of land to host massive quantities of solar panels. There are even those who believe that we are not in danger of depleting our traditional energy sources such as oil since although the cost of oil has increased, it is not severe enough to indicate there is a problem.

            The necessity of reducing greenhouse gasses has been around for years. There are opponents of global warming who claim “the global warming that we are experiencing is just the result of natural cycles” (‘Is Global Warming a Myth?’ 1) which include periodic increasing and decreasing global temperatures that have occurred over the centuries and millenniums. However, “a group of 600 leading climate scientists from 40 nations, says it is ‘very likely’ (more than a 90 percent chance) that humans are causing a global temperature change that will reach between 3.2 and 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of this century” (1). With only a ten percent chance of error that global warming is not taking place, it is prudent we take action.

            Our dependence on foreign oil has caused the United Statesmajor problems in the area of national security, and an enormous net transfer of wealth from the United Statesto other countries.  According to Mr. Woolsey, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency,  “the United Statesfaces a grave national security threat from its dependence on energy derived from oil” (Solomon 1). Many criticize the Gulf War and theIraq war to be the result, at least in part, of our oil dependency. No doubt, many terrorist organizations are getting sympathy and support from those who are unhappy about theUnited States military presence in oil-producing Islamic nations. “Petroleum-exporting nations fromSaudi Arabia toRussia are not only charging Americans record high prices for fuel, they are also poised to become the biggest creditor to theU.S. government” (Kruger 1). This sets the stage for other countries to play a very strong role in determining our foreign policy. Furthermore, “Oil consumers are paying $4 billion to $5 billion more for crude oil every day than they did just five years ago, pumping more than $2 trillion into the coffers of oil companies and oil-producing nations this year alone” (Mufson 1), which amounts to the largest transfer of wealth in all of history. Additionally, this huge transfer of wealth out of the United States into foreign countries is certainly not going to help us with our severe economic troubles.

            Fortunately, there is a solution. The cost of renewable energy is decreasing.  According to a solar energy specialist, “a big thumbs up for an industry that’s making huge advances in lowering costs and improving efficiency”  (Kanter 1). Additionally, “… experts advising the United Nations said renewable sources could deliver nearly 80 percent of world’s total energy demand by the middle of the century” (1). Since the cost of oil and other nonrenewable energy sources is increasing, it is rapidly becoming more cost effective to use renewable sources. Although renewable energy technology is quickly advancing, renewable energy sources are not without potential environmental drawbacks such as the large amounts of land required to place solar panels, or the effect placing a dam on a river has on the surrounding area. However, according to President Obama’s policy, environmental groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation, Wilderness Society and Sierra Club all will soon agree with the final plan. This is a strong indicator that plans for building and placement of renewable energy technology have been created with sensitivity towards potential negative environmental issues.

            Within our free market American belief system is the fundamental idea that the free market will drive change. At this time, with the American market clamoring to go green, our military fighting terrorism on foreign soil, and the cost of energy being at record highs, the time is right for change. With the rate at which renewable energy technology is advancing and cost effective renewable energy is becoming available, the United States needs to accelerate the transition from traditional energy sources to renewable energy sources.  

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Category: General Energy Information

About the Author ()

I am in my second year of a five year combination BS physics/math and MS systems engineering program offered jointly through Haverford College and UPenn. Helping my community is a lot of fun and means a great deal to me. Through the IEA and other efforts, I've come to learn how much power many can have when there is a clear positive vision, motivation and momentum. "There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist." — Mark Twain

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