Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fossil Fuel vs. Clean Energy

Simply put, it is renewable versus non-renewable energy. The fact that mother earth is in the verge of running out of fossil fuels (studies show an estimate of how much fossil fuel reserve remains), its cost and the environmental effect of its use had spawned ideas about the use of clean energy.

Examples of fossil fuel include coal, petroleum, and natural gas. Their benefits affect our everyday lives. Think of electricity, transportation and infrastructures. We have become so dependent on it that we have actually doubled up our usage in one hundred years. And fossil fuel is not renewable, meaning once we have used up its resources, there will be no more. While it is true that fossil fuel can be cheap (true among countries who produce them), readily available and convenient to use, and its importance deeply ingrained in our daily lives, the environmental effect of its usage is slowly making its presence felt as well.

Global warming is the foremost downside of fossil fuel consumption. Coal being one of the primary sources of energy, happens to be the dirtiest as well. Fossil fuel produces carbon dioxide when burned, thus creating a greenhouse effect. Al Gore’s monologue, “An Inconvenient Truth,” gave us a very good view of what is likely to happen if we don’t take responsibility in, if not restoring, then at least in minimizing the damage that we have inflicted to our very own planet. The unusual weather changes and how they disturb our ecosystem is definitely a byproduct of our witlessness and self-importance. Nature is calling and is relentlessly determined in being heard and noticed.

Many countries are heeding this call by taking initiatives in promoting clean energy. As it is renewable, we’ll never run out of it. And its use doesn’t have a negative effect on our environment. Solar, geothermal, wind power and biofuel for example, are being promoted. Renewable energy policies are being implemented as well. For all its promise, we should forget nuclear power after the horrors of Chernobyl and Fukushima. Czech Republic and Japan recently pledged to slowly wean their country from nuclear power usage.

Here in the Philippines, the wind turbines in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, aside from being an accidental tourist attraction as confessed by Sen. Bongbong Marcos who had a hand in having them built, is a very good example of harnessing clean energy. Now there are prototypes of jeepneys and other vehicles running on biofuel derived from used cooking oil. In Makati City, jeepneys running on electricity are also good news.

Although the technology is relatively new, it is being encouraged and funded. The main challenge being the cost, availability and, I believe, our willingness to consider the option. Totally eliminating the use of fossil fuel may be impossible but minimizing its use and thus lessening the negative impact of its usage is definitely attainable. Considering how technologically advanced we are right now, and with people and organizations promoting awareness, it might not take very long before clean energy becomes our primary source of energy.

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