Dirty Energy (see below)
Dirty Energy Such as Fossil Fuels
The world gets much of its energy from dirty energies such as coal, natural gas, oil, and nuclear. Fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil) spew CO2 and methane into the atmosphere and contribute to Global Warming. Coal is mainly used for electricity. Natural gas is mainly used for heating. Oil is mainly used for creating plastics and for gasoline for the transportation sector. Nuclear power creates hazardous, toxic radioactive waste that stays around for a very long time, hundreds of thousands of years. Nuclear power is mainly used for electricity.
The biggest supplier of electricity in the U.S. is currently coal. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, coal produces 44% of our electricity in the U.S. Coal burning produces mercury, aresenic, and lead, as well as CO2, which spew into the atmosphere. Coal dust goes into the air and coal sludge into the water during mountaintop removal. Coal mining produces black lung disease in coal miners. Living next to a coal plant produces great health risks. The burning of coal also contributes greatly to global warming.
Because of the problem of Global Warming, scientists say we must literally leave much of the coal, oil, and natural gas in the ground if we are going to achieve not raising our global temperature more than 2° C, which is necessary to prevent major catastrophe (the World bank says there is also no certainty that adaptation to a 4°C world is possible), and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change AR4 synopsis says unmitigated climate change would, in the long term, be likely to exceed the capacity of natural, managed and human systems to adapt. When the politicians say that it is not widely accepted that Global Warming is a real phenomenon, what they are really saying is that they are unwilling to challenge conventional wisdom even though without such leadership humanity could be dead within 100 years or even sooner.
We will run out of oil and natural gas long before we run out of coal. But we can't afford to keep putting all this CO2 and methane into the atmosphere from any of these sources. Oil is used in airplanes, trucks, as well as cars, and most vehicles. However, with a little bit of imagination and ingenuity (we already have the technology), and some changes in infrastructure to create more recharging stations, people can transition to fully electric vehicles which will not use any oil.
Unfortunately the oil and gas industry holds great sway over our world's political systems and is bent on extracting every last drop of oil from the planet. They fear stranded assets which means they cannot restrain themselves from exploiting and raping the Earth of all its substance because they can and feel they have the Right; as provided by their own capricious and contrived form of law. Their lawyers do not feel the needs of the Ecosystem, the demands of Harmony of Nature, or the demands of Harmony of Spirit and Rightness, and instead only feel the strong motivations and desires for money and capitalist gain provided by our current society and its prevailing mythology. Scientists have said we must refrain from continuing to extract all of the oil from the ground if we want any hope of averting the worst effects of Global Warming, and this means that civilization worldwide is in the balance and could soon topple due to massive civil unrest due to droughts, rising coastlines, and famine.
Natural gas is mainly used for heating and cooking. There is a limited supply of natural gas in the world and alternative means will eventually need to be found. Much natural gas is obtained through the destructive method of Fracking. Natural gas also contributes to global warming as it releases a lot of methane. Many policy advisors worldwide advocate using Natural Gas as a means of going to a low-carbon economy (an economy less likely to create global warming), but such advising is mis-guided because the burning and storing of Natural Gas produces much methane which also does contribute to Global Warming and the process of Fracking is extremely toxic to communities and environments and wasteful of water. These policy advocates are dominating our governments but we must wonder if they are taking money from corporate interests that seek to profit from Fracking instead of the more responsible road of developing more truly sustainable solutions such as Wind and Solar.
Another form of dirty energy is Nuclear Power. Where some advocates claim Nuclear Power is clean because it does not contribute to Global Warming, it is however harmful in other ways because it produces Radioactive Waste which is extremely harmful to biological life. Some of this Radioactive Waste will be around for hundreds of thousands of years and so must be guarded and protected constantly. All of the Radioactive Waste in the U.S. is in temporary storage right now because there is nowhere to put it. Also, the danger of meltdown such as what happened in Russia with Chernobyl and Japan with Fukishima causes unpredictable amounts of damage to the Earth and we are still seeing that Fukishima and Chernobyl's meltdown is causing great harm and is still not fully resolved. The radiation from meltdowns is not contained. There are reports that radiation is still leaking into the Pacific Ocean from Fukishima and a forest fire near Chernobyl could release much toxic radioactivity into the atmosphere. In Illinois, the greatest nuclear watchdog is the organization NEIS. Please click on that link to learn more about the dangers of Nuclear Power and what we can do to alleviate this growing risk.
This page last updated on 7/5/17