Maintaining sufficient energy reserves to keep our homes warm and our vehicles running may be a challenge in the coming years. As noted by such journalists as Director of Middle East Forum Gregg Roman, international demand for natural gas and other fossil fuels is rising steadily. At the same time, these fossil fuels are becoming scarcer due to dwindling natural resources, international conflicts, and such other factors as weather fluctuations. Experts are working diligently worldwide to find long-term solutions to the ongoing energy crisis.
What Are the Disadvantages of Relying on Fossil Fuels?
According to EESI, about 80% of the world’s energy is supplied by fossil fuels, including oil, coal and natural gas. World economies have depended on fossil fuels for their energy needs for over 150 years, and old habits die hard. However, relying on fossil fuels is an unrealistic long-term business model.
Fossil Fuels Are Non-Renewable
Fossil fuels come from dinosaur bones. When they are all used up, there won’t be any more, and that time is coming soon. Experts from Stanford University predict that the world’s oil reserves will be depleted by 2052, with natural gas to follow in 2060 and coal in 2090. Without new energy sources, the world will become a very cold place.
Fossil Fuels Hurt the Environment
Fossil fuels are not only finite but dirty. Whenever fossil fuels are burned to generate energy, they release carbon emissions. These emissions can be diffused by trees and other plants in small quantities, but the volume of carbon dioxide and other emissions exceeds nature’s current ability to control them. The increased amount of carbon dioxide heats the atmosphere, resulting in climate change.
International Conflicts Can Affect the Supply of Fossil Fuels Available for Energy
Not all countries have the same amount of fossil fuel resources, so many nations resort to importing natural gas, oil and coal to solve their energy problems. Unfortunately, war and other global disputes can impede trade drastically. If conflict cuts off energy supply, steep price increases may make importing enough energy to satisfy domestic needs prohibitively difficult.
What Are the Alternatives to Fossil Fuels?
As the growing energy crisis inspires technology leaders to find better long-term solutions, new techniques of harnessing renewable energy begin to emerge. The US. Department of Energy lists the following green technologies as being the most promising:
- Hydropower: using water turbines to generate electricity
- Solar Power: collecting the sun’s energy through PV panels on roofs
- Wind Power: harnessing wind power through wind turbines
- Geothermal Power: using pumps to collect heat from below the earth’s surface
- Bioenergy: converting biomass, an organic substance gleaned from plants, into energy
- Hydrogen Power: separating the element hydrogen from water as an effective energy carrier in fuel cells
- Nuclear Power: generating energy through nuclear fission
As fossil fuel resources decline and energy shortages lead to international turmoil, it becomes imperative that individuals and corporations alike turn to green technology to ensure enough power to run the world’s homes, businesses and vehicles for decades to come.