The Prospect of Renewable Energy
With the devastation caused by recent oil spills and nuclear reactor meltdowns, it is clear that we must begin to put into place a renewable energy program in order to insure the health of the planet. The United States, relies heavily on coal, oil and natural gas for energy; sources that will eventually dwindle, and clearly are not a strong environmental choice. Renewable energy, on the other hand, coming from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, replenishes naturally.
Is it a viable concept for a nation or even a planet to expect that these sources can power the world? According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world CAN get 80 percent of its power from these renewable sources by 2050. To meet the standards set by the IPCC, the renewable energy production will need to increase twenty-fold to avoid dangerous levels of global warming. If the "full range of renewable technologies were deployed", the report states, we could get to nearly 80 percent clean power in under 40 years, keeping the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere below 450 parts per million. Scientists say the carbon concentration should be 350.
The United States, the world’s biggest energy consumer, is currently politically deadlocked regarding issues that would bring solutions to these problems. Of course, the political debate revolves the expense of this project. The cost would be around 1 percent of the global GDP annually, an estimated $240 billion.
Rather than focus on the enormous monetary cost, we must focus on the tremendous health benefits to our population as well as the planet in general. In addition to creating a vibrant environment, a global clean-tech industry would contribute to economic health as renewables are expected to play a greater role than either nuclear or carbon capture and storage by 2050.
The deployment of clean energy technology will not only stave off the worst effects of climate change, it will also be beneficial for the health and well-being of the earth’s citizens.