Today, most of human activities depend on energy that comes from contaminant resources. Transport, industrial processes, electricity generation and agriculture are the major consumers of energy and producers of contamination. The human population has increased from 1.73 billion people in 1909, to 6.79 billion people in 2009, almost four times, and keeps growing. Where will all these energy and resources come in the future? It’s the scenario we have to prepare for.
Increase of population have already increased the demand of energy. The most developed countries in Europe and North America had been the most contaminant ones. But now we should include China, Brazil and India to the contamination rates. It will actually get worst since the less developed countries are trying to “catch up”, following the bad examples of the most developed countries, repeating sometimes the same mistakes.
The energy generation depends mostly on burning petroleum, coal and natural gas. All of these liberate co2 and other greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere increasing the global warming. The other important energy source is nuclear which don’t liberate co2 and other greenhouse gasses, but represents a latent high risk of radiation contamination, as we could have seen lately.
New technologies have been developed like Bio fuels, with the same bad results. A lot of ground surface is needed to produce the amount required, resulting in deforestation which liberates greenhouse gasses, increasing the global warming. Other technology in use today is thermal power, but this also liberates co2 and greenhouse gasses.
Sustainable Energy Systems
One technology in use today is hydroelectric generation which don’t produce co2 or other greenhouse gasses. It uses water natural movement to generate the energy. The problem sometimes is that it affect ecologic systems by altering river courses and natural lands.
The most promising technologies today are Solar and Wind Power Generation. The Sun is a source of energy that will last for millions of years. Its generation depends on exposing devices to its rays. The problems of this energy source are that the energy can only be generated in the day time, and that some of the devices can produce contamination in their manufacture and disposal after its lifetime.
Wind Energy takes advantage of the natural air movement through the Earth’s surface, without altering it. The problem is that it’s not a constant source since the wind is unpredictable.
There are some new energy sources under research such as Ocean Power. It uses the natural movement of the sea and the changes of tides taking advantage of the movement and energy it produces. Also, now with the new development of nanotechnology, there are investigations on new batteries made from nano-structures supposed to be degradable and less contaminant.
Energy is and will be one of the big topics to deal with in the next years. There is hope that new technology will substitute our dependence on such polluting energy as we have today.