A detailed description of the problem
There are so many undefined factors negatively affecting the environment. These are some of the things that make people to put their efforts in protecting the environment. Energy conservation is one of the steps taken towards this and it concerns the global community, the individual countries and local communities. Energy conservation results in general environmental conservation by controlling the use of natural resources. The need to formulate ways as individuals to conserve energy is not well known by many people. Many people always think that such are the responsibilities of the government or environmental conservation movements. There are many overwhelming challenges involved in the process of energy conservation, but it would be a little bit easier if everybody was educated and was able to find ways to cut on the energy they use in the environment. The process of energy conservation involves looking for methods to decrease the mount of energy that is not under use and the one that is usually wasted. This can be accomplished in various ways to ensure that energy is used efficiently and that unnecessary and wasted energy is reduced. There are many advantages that come when energy is conserved and these include helping keep a good environment, cutting costs incurred by businesses and individuals on gas and electricity. “Energy” is defined in physics as the “ability to do work” (Carlini, 2007). Works refers to such activities as warming something, lifting or moving something or lighting. Energy is turned into various forms like heat and power for it to be able to help do work. Energy can be renewable or nonrenewable. The nonrenewable sources of energy are natural energy elements that cannot be reloaded like fossil fuels and coal. Their amounts are usually limited. 71.5% of energy used in the US is from the nonrenewable natural sources (Keith, 2007). Renewable energy sources are like water (hydropower), wind power, energy from vegetation (biomass fermentation), solar energy and geothermal energy. Unfortunately the nonrenewable sources of energy have been used in large and uncontrollable amounts and now they are being depleted. The changes in the climatic and weather trends pose a threat on the availability of our renewable sources of energy. Therefore, the process of energy conservation is a serious issue that should be everyone’s responsibility and it should be treated with the seriousness it deserves.
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The living and nonliving factors that contribute to or are affected energy conservation
There are several living and nonliving factors that add to and are affected by energy conservation. Precipitation, temperature, sunlight, water and soil are some of the nonliving factors that affect energy conservation. Sunlight and temperatures both contribute to energy consumption since they both provide us with renewable sources of energy to serve as light and solar power. These are then used instead of non-renewable energy sources. However, water and soil are affected by sunlight and temperatures since high temperature affect the texture of the soil and also reduce the soil water through evaporation. Animals are some of the living factors that could be affected by energy conservation. They could also contribute to energy conservation in one way or another. Carnivores, herbivores and omnivores affect the conservation of energy. Herbivores and the omnivores feed on the plants and this leads to reduction in transpiration because of the reduced vegetation. This in turn affects the amount of rain that the land receives from the transpired water vapor hence reduced hydropower. There are multiplier effects involved in such situations in that there are various effects on the plant life which means that there are few of them to be consumed by the herbivores. The lack of enough food for the herbivores means they can’t stay alive for long and as such the carnivores which depend on them for food will grow weak, sickly and die of hunger as well. The effects on the omnivores like the human beings are inevitable since they lack the plants and other animals to feed on hence they pass on as well.
Positive and negative human impacts
The positive impacts human beings have on energy conservation are; committing a certain amount of money to improve energy efficiency. This is mostly done by the help of government and international organizations. They do this by setting aside some money in their budgets to ensure that alternative energy sources are provided and reduction in energy wastage is achieved. However, the activities of human beings have a negative impact on the process of conserving energy. This is because most people are ignorant of the amount of energy they use. Worse still, they don’t know that if they took a few steps to cut down on their energy use, they could save a lot of energy. Many of them use fluorescent lights in their lamps instead of utilizing the energy saving incandescent lights, or use a 100-watt bulb where a 15-watt bulb can work (Carlini, 2007). If this is done throughout the house of an average American, not only a lot of money but energy could be saved. A person living in a high-rise condo where he is paying a lot of money to the association could ask that fluorescent lights be put in all the common areas in the building. These areas include bathrooms, hallways and locker rooms. This has a great impact on energy conservation and has been done in various shared buildings (Carlini, 2007). Another positive impact humans have on energy conservation is the formulation of various ways to create renewable sources of energy. When renewable sources of energy are used there is no negative impact on the energy conservation because what is used is replaced. However, if human beings rapidly use non renewable sources of energy, it will become hard to retain and sustain them which make the current efforts to conserve them to be in vain. The resources then get depleted which is a threat to human sustainable development.
The gaseous emissions into the air are commonly due to man’s activities and this has very negative impacts on energy conservation. More than 95% of Sulfur oxides and 90% of nitrogen oxides that are released into the atmosphere come from manmade sources (Sustainability City, 2009). Power plants like electricity companies and various industries that utilize coal along with other fossil fuels as energy sources result in a lot of carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide emitted to the air. Furthermore, the processing of raw ore containing chemical compounds such as sulphides leads to increased emission of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. The internal-combustion engines of light trucks and cars which generate energy by burning gasoline release carbon dioxide into the air. When most of these gases go into the air, they result in acid rain and this has a great impact on hydropower in that acid water corrodes the machines used to generate hydroelectric power and energy is not generated. This also adds to instances in greenhouse gases which eventually lead to global warming.
Evaluation of current sustainability strategies and solutions
Currently, there are various strategies put in place by individuals and organizations to reach sustainability. Most of these strategies offer solutions to the problems of energy wastage to ensure that energy is conserved. Various organizations and corporations have put in their efforts to ensure that the world energy consumption is either reduced or conserved. For example the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States in conjunction the Boys and Girls clubs in the US together with the parent’s-teachers organizations have purposed to teach the children how to conserve energy. The EPA campaign called the ‘change the world, starts with energy campaign’ encourages the kids and their families to take a pledge entitled the ‘energy star pledge’ that involves using energy saving appliances, cutting wasteful power usage and insulating homes. EPA has confirmed that more than one million Americans have taken the pledge. If the energy star pledge is followed to the letter, the US can save more than $18 billion in one year. This is one of the strategies put toward sustainable development (Rogers, 2001).
Wal-Mart, which is one of the leading dealers in the world, has affirmed that it is the largest electricity consumer in the world. Its new store was launched on January 15 and is termed as the High-Efficiency 2 (HE.2). It saves 20% more energy than the HE.1 Supercenter that was launched a year earlier in Kansas. Most of the electricity conserved is from the new refrigeration loop which is pooled to an advanced water heating, cooling and refrigeration system (Rodgers, 2000). This expertise was tried on stores Wal-Mart and makes use of non-refrigerant answers for cooling the freezers and the refrigerators resulting in more than ninety percent decrease in refrigerant. If these are adopted by most retail stores, departmental stores and superstores, we will attain sustainability as far as energy conservation is concerned. Apart from the strategies used by EPA and the technology at Wal-Mart, there are several other solutions that are being put in place to ensure sustainability. This is the invention of equipment that uses less energy. An example is the Kathabar Dehumidification Systems’ Twin-Cel. This is a liquid desiccant that builds energy reduction by transferring temperature and moisture between streams of air allowing for great energy savings that are more than just a recovery of sensible heat. The increasing technology in the world today is mainly geared towards producing appliances and systems that are efficient and at the same time helping to conserve energy.
Currently there are also strategies to produce electricity using both non- and renewable resources. Hydroelectric power is the one mostly used to generate electricity. There are progresses to ensure that more electricity is produced from solar and wind energy.
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The plan to reach Sustainability
I would adopt the plan by the Sustainable City of San Francisco that has four main goals. The first goal is to attain overall power use by maximizing energy efficiency. In this regard, all the citizens have to be educated on issues concerning energy and changes in climate. This will enable them to make informed decisions concerning what impacts their energy choices have on the environment, how they can use energy with efficiency and use of renewables. This will ensure that the electric appliances used by citizens are energy efficient and when they use them, they avoid energy wastage. The second goal is geared towards maintaining an energy supply based on renewable and environmentally friendly sources. The third plan is to ensure that climate-change and ozone layer depletion via emissions and toxins that are associated with energy use and production are eliminated. The final goal is making decisions of energy conservation that are based on the goal of attaining a sustainable society (Sustainability City, 2009).
In line with the mentioned goals, I would also have a personal plan to ensure that as much energy as possible has been conserved. There are so many programs that have been created by the government and nongovernmental organizations like EPA to push the plan of energy conservation forward. Whereas as there are many plans to attain sustainability, none of them can succeed without major investments by governments, organizations and individuals in terms of time and money. That’s why the process of energy conservation has to be planned for in the budgets and in our time schedules. There are also plans to initiate sustainability locally, nationally and internationally. These have been evaluated and found to be successful within the plans and the means that have been decided upon either by the local leadership, national or international community. This could be better however; if it had been coupled with mitigation plans against global warming that would be implemented world wide.
Benefits and challenges of the plan
The mitigation plan for energy conservation definitely has benefits as well as challenges. The plan to have everybody educated on the issues of environmental change and conservation of energy has benefits because it will ease the process of energy conservation in that the people will be reading from the same script. They will understand each and every aspect concerning the conservation of energy. To have everybody use energy maximally and efficiently will to a great extent save a lot of energy. However, this can pose a challenge since people’s standards of living are different and they have different preferences as far as their as appliances are concerned. In addition to this, energy saving appliances are usually very expensive and some people cannot be able to afford them. Total reliance on renewable sources of energy has many benefits in that the sources of energy are always renewed and reloaded. Therefore the threat of running out of the energy is not there. These sources are always very friendly to the environment. The air will be clean and the problem of global warming could be prevented. Emission of dangerous gases to the atmosphere is not possible when renewable sources of energy are used. The problem of acid rain coupled to global warming can be mitigated with the use of renewable sources of energy. While these are apparent advantages of plans to use renewable and environmental friendly sources of power, some organizations will advocate against total reliance on renewable sources of energy. They claim that renewable sources of energy cannot meet all the energy needs of the world. This is true; therefore, it poses a great challenge to total reliance on renewable sources of energy. This then will mean continued use of nonrenewable sources of energy that emit gases to the atmosphere. The plan to eliminate climate change and depletion of the ozone layer from these emissions will also be a challenge. The best that can be done is to decrease the emission of these gases to the environment. Making decisions based on creating a sustainable society is a great plan that will ensure people live in harmony with their society and that the energy available will always be there in plenty to meet the needs of the world. However, there is a challenge to this because times change and economies change. The development of new technologies leads to greater machines that require more energy and power. There is also the increase in population. The world will be so populated that it will need more energy than it needs now. In addition to this, most of the things are going to be automated with things like robots being used in houses instead of house helps and various other machines geared towards making life easy. All these will need more and more energy to sustain the population. Therefore, attainment of sustainability has a great challenge to meet.
Required government, societal, and global support
To ensure sustainability, the government has formulated several policies to decrease energy conservation costs but such laws only apply to large scale corporations, builders and constructors. There should be a change in the taxation system so that individuals can benefit from the tax savings that will encourage them to use the energy saving techniques. This requires the support of the law makers all over the world. The government is also required to create lesson sessions and classes to the public through the local government to ensure information about the importance and the necessity of energy conservation is available to the public. The government is also asked to formulate policies that when implemented, will ensure that factories do not pump dangerous levels of toxic gases in to the atmosphere. This could be done through continuous inspection of the factories to determine those that are exceeding the set limit. This could be done by an independent specialist in pollution who then will recommend the fining of the companies that will be found committing the felony. Renewable sources of energy should be used by all countries and communities worldwide. This cannot be a one man show. All governments are needed and all the societies should be involved to ensure that sustainability is well achieved. They are also required to support the advertising campaigns that should be staged globally to make the world know the hazards of polluting air and wasting energy. The adverts should be in form of adverts in papers, gazette issues done by the different governments, bill boards, television and radio adverts. All these should convey a massage that energy conservation is a must and it should be everyone’s responsibility.
The question to whether sustainability will ever be attained in the world cannot be answered. However, the faster and the much we can conserve our energy, the better we can handle the uncertainty. By decreasing greenhouses gases and putting energy conservation plans in place we can attain whatever we are fighting for, no matter how long it will take.
Carlini, J. (2007). Energy conservation might take us farther than renewable fuels. Web.
Keith, R. (2007). A Sustainable Energy Plan for Barbados?
Rogers, A. (2000). ‘Teaching Kids to Conserve.’ The Green Gazette, Mother Earth News. Ogden Publishing.
Sustainability City. (2009). Sustainability Plan / Energy, Climate Change and Ozone Depletion / Strategy.