Alternative energy is a term used to describe any source of energy that replaces the usage of fuel as the source of energy and they are deemed not to have the negative effects that are accrued with the usage of fossil fuels.
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Fossil fuel and nuclear energy has been deemed to have more negative effects which include negative climatic change and gross problems of disposing radioactive waste materials which are deemed to be very harmful to the lives of the people.
It is important to note over the years the concept of alternative energy have been changing and today the term is associated with a diversified definitions but the goal of all of them is to improve the quality of the energy produced and the effects of the usage of the energy to be less harmful than the existing one (McKie, 362).
Alternative energy and the environment
The usage of energy has brought about diverse problems to the environment and this is mostly rooted to the usage of fossil and non renewable sources of energy.
However, the use of alternative energy has also been faced with gross damage to the environment and it has been noted that many countries are coming up with policies which indicate to what extent the alternative energies should be used.
A good example is Netherlands where the usage of Palm Oil was discouraged because it was more harmful to the environment than the use of fossil fuel. Many countries around the world have not really come up with solutions to the rising global environment pollution and the use of alternative source of energy though being seen as a means of reducing the global environment pollution has also been criticized for damaging the environment.
In most cases alternative sources of energy which are derived from plants and animals have been cited as being ecologically harmful and this have led to the criticism that is directed to these types of energy (Berger, 123).
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Another issue concerning environment in the usage of alternative sources of energy is the issue of food whereby the sources of the alternative sources are plant materials or animals.
It is indicated that since the alternative energies will be lucrative for farmers who will concentrate on the production of these plants and animals and ignore the production of plants which are to be used as food. This means that there will be a food shortage in the world and the prices of foods will escalate and this is not beneficial but on more harmful to the world (Watson, 215).
Alternative source of energy usage in Brazil and United States
Brazil is one of the leading countries in the usage of alternative sources of energy while the United States although due to concerns arising from excessive use and dependence on oil has tried to adopt the usage of alternative sources of energies, depends overly on oil as its main source of energy. Brazil is the second largest producer of ethanol and this is because due to its fertile soil it is the leading producer of sugar in the world.
Ethanol usage in the country is well advanced and though it depends primarily on oil as its source of energy it has also adopted the use of ethanol as a formidable source of energy in running its economy. United States on the other hand has not fully adopted the use of alternative source of energy to run the enormous economy. This has sparked off a lot of controversy especially since it rejected the proposals made at the Kyoto Protocol (Foley, 154).
Brazil has started manufacturing cars that use ethanol and a significant percentage of the vehicles in the country use ethanol.
This has been very beneficial to the environment and the harmful extracts of the oil used in the motor vehicles have reduced significantly. United States on the other hand is the leading oil consumer in the world and this means that almost all of its cars use oil.
This has degraded the environment to such levels that the levels of lead in the environment are very alarming. This has led to various debates over the country’s dependence on oil and many are calling for the country to implement policies which are aimed at reducing the oil usage in the country.
Apart from that many of the industries in the United States depend entirely on oil as a source of energy. While Brazil is doing very well in ensuring that the environmental problems that are associated with the usage of fossil fuels are eliminated United States is doing very little to tackle this problem (Chandler, 26).
Politics associated with alternative sources of energy
In Brazil politicians have argued that the dependence of ethanol will see to it that the country does not produce enough sugar and since Brazil is the leading sugar producer in the world, the commodity’s price will raise to very high levels. This has brought about a stalemate on the political stand on the issues concerning the use of this source of energy.
Others argue that the country will tend to concentrate more on the production of the product that many people will be tempted to grow sugar and ignore the planting of plants which would be used as food. This means that the country would face food shortages and this is not very good for population.
However, many people view the production of ethanol in the country as very beneficial to the economy as well as to the environment and this have also contributed to the country being referred to as bio-fuel superpower (Berger, 123).
United States on the other hand has very contradicting political view of the power source of the country. Many activists and politician point out that apart from overly depending on oil it also spends a lot of resources acquiring the commodity. This has led to the fact that the country has one of the most degraded environments in the world.
The politicians are calling for the government to adopt policies which try to improve the environment through the use of other sources of energy like the wind energy or water energy.
Those who do not support this argue that with United States taking up these policies will ensure that country will use a lot of resources apart from the fact it will have to undergo tremendous changes to adopt the use. They argue that the country would stand to loose a lot income and resources if it starts this changes (Foley, 154).
Importance of international meetings, treaties and agreements
One of the most notable international meetings that concerned the use of alternative source of energies is the Kyoto Protocol which required that countries cut back the usage of fossil fuels to end the increasing global temperatures as well as ensuring that the world environment would be saved. Many countries which are developed accepted this and signed an agreement but the United States did not sign the agreement.
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These kinds of agreements are very important because they play a very important role in ensuring that the global environment is taken care of. They also help the developing countries in ensuring that their environment improves significantly and this is through the use of agreements which prohibit dumping in the countries by companies from the developed countries (Chandler, 26).
Berger, John J. Charging Ahead: The Business of Renewable Energy and What it Means for America. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1998.
Chandler, William U. Energy Productivity: Key to Environmental Protection and Economic Progress. Washington, D.C.: Worldwatch Institute, 1985.
Foley, Gerald. The Energy Question. London: Penguin Books; New York: Viking Penguin, 1987.
McKie, Robin. Energy. New York: Hampstead Press, 1989.
Watson, Robert K. Looking for Oil in All the Wrong Places: Facts About Oil, Natural Gas and Efficiency Resources. Washington, D.C.: Natural Resources Defense Council, 1991.