Energy Saving: Why?
Many resources in this world are limited. There is a finite quantity of fossil fuels, of precious metals, of money from the weekly pay-cheque. As humans, we have an innate understanding of the limits of these commodities, but what of less tangible resources? What of energy?
Of course we understand what it means to run out of energy. Everybody has experience of getting tired at the end of the day, but “common sense” would suggest that energy is not a resource that would disappear entirely. We replenish it in our own bodies with food and sleep, and now even recharge the batteries on a variety of electronic gadgets. Science now tells us that energy cannot be created, that it too is finite, and there has been no new energy in the universe since the Big Bang. However, the amount of energy is so vast that by comparison, our own meagre use seems beyond insignificant.
If that is the case, then what is the importance of saving energy?
The fact is, while our planet is but a small world in an outer corner of an ordinary galaxy, it is also – so far – the only home we have. In addition, we have not yet developed the technology that would allow us to take resources from elsewhere. You have doubtless heard this many times before, just as I have, but it doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves. Energy use contributes to the level of carbon emissions, which in turn are significant contributors to global warming. The potential effects of global warming are well known: rising sea levels, increased frequency of storm activity, and melting of the polar ice-caps are often cited as examples.
The Guardian recently reported that existing droughts would intensify with rising global temperatures. With almost half the population living within 200 kilometres of at least one coastline, the potential human cost of rising sea levels is clear.
Artificial methods of producing energy include hydroelectric, nuclear, coal, solar, and wind. Coal-based production produces close to 1000 grams of carbon dioxide per kWh. The CO2 emissions of so-called “clean energy” power stations are many times smaller, but even hydroelectric, solar, and wind energy includes some CO2 byproduct. The consumption of water in turbine-based hydroelectric stations can be as high as one litre per kWh.
The effect of global warming and pollution on public health – particularly a rise in respiratory ailments – is particularly prevalent among children, the elderly, and people in developing countries. In addition, the destructive effects of global warming and pollution on wilderness habitats are likely to prove disastrous for many threatened species.
Saving Energy is Saving Money:
Energy efficient technology costs more to produce, and therefore naturally more to purchase. However, the long term running costs of an energy efficient car or light-bulb are ultimately cheaper. Simple energy-saving methods of light and heating – such as installing a sunlight in the roof of one’s home or insulation in the walls – have little to no subsequent running costs for the home-owner. With the rising cost of fossil fuels and unemployment levels rising around the world, efficient use of energy can help us all to save cash from those valuable pay-cheques, and improve our quality of life.
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