The fossil fuels nowadays are the primary sources of energy for industrial, agricultural and community needs. More than 80% of the energy in the world comes from the fossil fuels (Cherian 36). Among them are natural gas, oil, coal and in some cases wood. They are very convenient because they produce enormous amounts of energy when burned. At the same time, fossil fuels exert a significantly harmful impact on the environment.
The Environmental Impact Resulting from the Global Use of Fossil Fuels
The intensive use of the fossil fuels is one of the fundamental reasons of climate change and global warming. The burning of the fossil fuels cause the emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane. The existing amount of those gases cannot be recycled. That leads to their accumulation in the atmosphere and causes greenhouse effect (Cherian 6). In the following 50 years, the increased level of CO2 emissions may cause more than 2° rise of the world temperature (Finkel 86).
The reduction of air quality because of greenhouse gas emissions leads to serious health problems such as cancer and respiratory diseases (Cherian 160). Air and soil pollution becomes the reason of the crops’ contamination, decreased quality of food and degradation of the agricultural production system. The same can be told about the water pollution (United Nations Environment Program 51). It is often told that future conflicts between the states will be because of water.
The climate change also causes drastic losses of biodiversity. Animal and plant species are killed by the change in temperature regime, desertification, acid rains and contamination (Cherian 29).The process of the fossil fuels production may lead to substantial habitat degradation and fragmentation. Local species may not be able to live in destroyed and polluted area. For instance, the oil spills cause the destruction of the whole marine and ocean ecosystems (United Nations Environment Program 180).
Need to Move to Renewable Energy in Today’s Society
In general, renewable energy or green energy refers to those energy sources that are either inexhaustible or can be replenished in a natural way. Renewable energy can be received from such natural resources as the wind, sunlight, water currents, tides and geothermal heat (Kyro 301). According to the report of the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century, or simply REN21, nowadays 19,1% of all energy in the world is produced from renewable sources; 22,8% of the world’s electricity is renewable (Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century 18).
Among the key reasons for the humanity to move to renewable energy are:
Inexhaustibility. The researchers indicate that the explored oil reserves will be enough for less than 60 years (Finkel 199). The renewable sources, on the contrary, are unlimited from the human point of view. The use of the renewables in the economy helps to save non-renewable sources for future generations.
Security and reliability. The renewable sources are environmentally friendly. While they are used, there is almost no waste and no environmental costs associated with the extraction, processing and transportation of fossil fuels. The supply of the renewables does not depend on the human activities (Kukreja par. 4).
Reduction of environmental pollution. The renewable energy sources do not need to be burned; thus, no harmful greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere, hydrosphere and soil. The renewables do not violate the ecological balance of the planet. REN21 notes, that in 2014, “despite rising energy use, for the first time in four decades, global carbon emissions associated with energy consumption remained” (Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century 6); that was made possible by the spread of renewable sources.
Free cost of sources. Nowadays such issues as the price for gas and oil become very tough ones for the countries that are poor for fossil fuels. That often is a burden for the citizens to pay extremely high prices to heat their dwellings. The prices of fossil fuels define the inflation rates and influences the country’s GDP. Moreover, the countries-suppliers often exert political pressure on the receivers of their energy. Sun, water and the wind are free sources. The only thing to do is to invest into facilities that can get energy from those free sources. This long-time investment will diminish the country’s dependence on the external energy providers (Kyro 301).
Sustainable development. Renewable energy is an essential component of the sustainable development concept. This concept assumes the need to establish a balance between the satisfaction of modern needs and interests of the people and those of the future generations, including their need for a safe and healthy environment (Twidell and Weir 5).
New job opportunities. The renewable energy industry requires well-educated specialists with solid knowledge, both engineers and technology designers. This industry gives the new tech-oriented generation a chance to realize their potential and bring benefit to the society. Today 7,7 million people worldwide are involved in the renewable energy.
However, there also exist some implications for the widespread use of the renewables. The cost of the facilities for renewable energy production is rather high in comparison with the traditional energy stations. This problem is especially crucial for the least developed countries; they can only turn to the developed ones for help and become more dependent on them. Moreover, the renewable energy facilities can only be located in particular places because they depend much on the weather conditions. That may increase costs for energy transportation (Kukreja par. 11-13).
Overall, it can be said that renewable energy as an alternative to the fossil fuels is the only way for the humankind to save the Earth and to ensure the prosperity of the future generations.