Rising Cost of Global Warming Fuels Alternative Energy

By Amir Tavassoli Kilani 

Global warming has dramatically increased the occurrence of natural disasters, negatively impacting millions of lives across the globe. Our society has become so accustomed and dependent on fossil fuel energy that people tend to forget the sun emits more than enough clean energy to power all civilizations. Technology and science continues to advance while the energy consumed by humanity leaves behind a hazardous combination of byproducts that both destroy and pollute the Earth’s ecosystem. Global policies and subsidies must be put forth in order to promote the use of renewable clean energy so that it creates an economic incentive for companies to make this transition from fossil fuel energy. The success of alternative, renewable and clean energy depends on supportive policy to break society’s dependency on fossil fuel energy.

Currently the two largest sources of carbon dioxide emissions are from automobiles and generating electricity. Carbon dioxide is a heat trapping greenhouse gas that disrupts the global climate and contaminates the atmosphere. According to United Nations World Meteorological Organization, the 13 warmest years ever recorded have occurred since 1997.

It is not a coincidence that global temperatures have risen with the same slope as carbon dioxide emissions. Weather events such as droughts, flooding and natural disasters have also occurred at a much higher frequency over the past half century. These events result in damages costing billions that could have been invested in advancing technology to obtain clean renewable energy from alternative sources. Currently, fossil fuel plants generate approximately 65 percent of the world’s electrical energy. In the following decade, this number must be greatly reduced in efforts to ensure a safe future.

The perils of climate change caused by greenhouse gases emitted from thermal power plants should influence policy makers to reconsider the structure of today’s energy production with alternative methods. Society must look to harvest the unlimited, renewable and clean energy of the sun. Generating electrical power from wind and solar energy has greatly advanced and became extremely efficient in recent years. The transition to solar energy would also generate countless jobs creating an economic incentive for companies and workers. According to the International Energy Agency, renewable energy sources provide only 19 percent of global electricity. Subsidies must be handed out to companies that promote the development of the science and manufacturing of solar technology.

At the same time, stricter environmental regulations must be placed to encourage companies to lower their carbon dioxide emissions which would provide further incentive to make this transition. According to the International Energy Agency, renewable clean energy is expected to surpass natural gas as the second major global electricity source by 2016. These alternatives have provided a clean and sufficient method of extracting energy to create electricity without the negative side effects associated with thermal power plants.

Automobiles generate an enormous amount of pollution every year and must be replaced by electrical vehicles as the main source of transportation in order to lower global carbon dioxide emissions. The combustion of fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel are currently the main energy source used to power U.S. and global transportation. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, this is the second largest source of carbon dioxide emissions and it accounts for 32 percent of the total emissions in the U.S. Technology of gas powered automobiles greatly advanced before the consequences were fully understood and overtime the burning of fossil fuels became the major energy source to power the world’s automobiles. According to the International Energy Agency, renewable energy sources provide only three percent of global energy used for transportation. The technology for vehicles utilizing renewable and clean energy sources has only recently been explored but has seen great advances in the past decade and presents a great opportunity for creating numerous jobs.

Policies must continue to develop and encourage the advancement of renewable clean energy technologies. Thermal plants discharge tons of pollution into the surrounding air that can negatively affect the climate on a global scale. Whereas, solar power can generate enough clean energy to meet the demands of the entire global population. Although advances have been made worldwide, ultimately electricity generated from renewable clean sources has only seen a dismal growth of only 3 percent in the past decade. Stricter environmental regulations must be enforced to observe a swifter transition from fossil fuel energy to clean and renewable energy.

 

Amir Tavassoli Kilani is a fourth-year public health sciences major. He can be reached at atavasso@uci.edu.