Going green

Rough Draft: Alternate Fuels of the 21st Century

        Simple things like purchasing energy efficient light bulbs or installing low flow shower heads can be a great way to embark on a new understanding of going green. "Going green doesn't mean you have to stop bathing, stop shaving, sell your vehicle, read by candlelight and chain yourself to a tree to protest logging. That is how some people would describe what "going green is. That is hardly the case, but coming up with a definition of "going green isn't that simple. No one needs to "go green to help out with the environment. Simple changes can be a huge help with the unfortunate damage being done to the environment. There are thousands of things a human can do in any given day to help keep the environment clean. Simple things like switching your light bulbs to energy efficient light bulbs, or installing low flow shower heads is a great way to embark on a new understanding of what one could do to help keep the earth safe and clean. No one needs to stop showering, stop shaving, or sell their car, you can still do anything you want but at the same time you could be "green about it, for example cutting the length of a shower in half, using non-electric shaving equipment, or switching to biodiesel. Problems with environmental degradation have left consumers, planners, and policy makers to seek alternative fuel sources, but the government, who can make a huge difference, just does not seem interested in this subject matter. The government needs to realize the importance of alternate fuels and should stress how we can considerably decrease damage on the environment.

        The government can easily raise awareness on this predicament given that they have the biggest say on any given topic. The fuels that citizens currently use are clearly not good for the environment, even though there is a perfect alternative to every fuel and energy source out there; we still continue to use the harmful ones. The reason to this is that, the government likes to solve problems after they occur when they should really be taking precautions to disallow a problem from occurring in the first place. The government will surely act once we run out of oil, or even when lives are lost due to the environmental factors that lie within the use of fuels, what the government won't do is take action now when there is still time from preventing catastrophes from occurring in the near future. Better late than never, Canada invested $72 million into a biodiesel plant in Hamilton, Ontario in August of 2009. BIOX, a nine-year-old biodiesel company based in Ontario, will receive the money through the ecoENERGY for biofuels program which helps stabilize the Canadian renewable fuel industry. Prime Minister Stephen Harper arranged $1.5 billion to encourage the change from current fuels to the very competitive renewable fuel industry in Canada. The money is there but the awareness is not. If every Canadian citizen was aware of the environmental effects brought on by just driving their cars, they too would want a change.

        Fossil fuels, including coal, natural gas, and oil are all formed from the fossilized remains of prehistoric plants and animals, and fossil fuels provide about 95% of the world's total energy. The twentieth century is known as the "hydrocarbon century due to the abundance of fossil fuels and their contribution to human development. Fossil fuels take millions of years to take form; they are formed by decomposing remains of plants and animals under immense heat and pressure. This process results in petroleum, coal, and natural gas, which together have generated almost all of the energy consumption globally for over a century. Fossil fuels are currently the most economically available source of power for both personal and commercial use. Petroleum fuels cars, natural gas and coal provides heat and electricity to our homes. In 2005, more than of total energy consumption for the world was through the use of fossil fuels. Petroleum led with 43.4 percent, followed by natural gas at 15.6 percent and coal at 8.3 percent. North America is the largest consumer of fossil fuels, utilizing nearly of the world's resources. The wide use of fossil fuels does come include a downside, however. Experts believe that the world has already reached its peak for oil extraction and production, and that it is only a matter of time before natural gas and coal runs out. These concerns have led to the awareness and exploration of alternative sources of petroleum. Alternative fuels are better for the environment and often better for the economy than fossil fuels. Because of the burning of fossil fuels, the waste products that are burned affect our environment and people in a harmful way. It is also believed that the burning of fossil fuels has something to do with climate change. New government policies have been proposed in hope to reduce the use of fossil fuels by those who fear climate change. Some even believe that the burning of fossil fuels is beneficial.

        The burning of fossil fuels does have its fair share of pros, but is it enough to override the cons? No, the cons outweigh the pros when evaluating the impact on the environment when the use of fossil fuels takes place. The main advantage is the ability to control pollution by using clean-burning coal technology. When burned, coal is the dirtiest of all fossil fuels but recent technology has allowed industries to reduce the environmental impact when coal is burned. The Main disadvantage of using fossil fuels is the negative impact on the environment. Permanent damage is done to the habitats and marine environments caused during drilling or coal extraction. When fossil fuels are burned, they release carbon dioxide and other gaseous emissions that cause heat to be trapped in the atmosphere, which is known as greenhouse gases. The burning of fossil fuels also causes acid rain. Acid rain is rain or a form of precipitation that is acidic. It has negative effects on infrastructure, aquatic animals, and plants. Acid rain is caused by emissions of compounds of sulfur, nitrogen, and carbon in the atmosphere. An oil spill is the release of a liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment due to human activity, and is also a form of pollution. Clearly the cons outweigh the pros, citizens should try to keep the burning of fossil fuels at a minimum to keep the earth we live on, a safe one.

        Living in a fast paced country, it is difficult for a family to not own at least one vehicle. Most vehicles run on some type of fuel, whether it is petroleum or diesel, but with the environmental issues that are caused with these fuels, car manufacturers have been looking for alternative methods to make a car run on. Cars are starting to run on cleaner alternate fuels/energy. Hybrid cars are being manufactured which eliminates a large part of the emissions that are being let out in to the atmosphere by petrol engine vehicles. Another alternative to petroleum is biodiesel which is non toxic and biodegradable. Hybrid vehicles have two sources of power, typically gas (petrol) and electricity. Some of the cars even recharge the battery when you apply the brake pedal, which eliminates the need of plugging the cars battery into an outlet. The reason that hybrid cars include two motors (electric and gasoline powered) is because of the strengths and weaknesses of both the motors. The electric motor does not use any energy while idling, it automatically turns off. Gas motors are better for high speeds because of additional power compared to the electric motor. When you drive during rush hour or in the city, the electric motor kicks in and works just as good as the gasoline powered motor. The electric motor, however, does not produce any exhaust thus reducing smog levels. When a car is driven at speeds over 40 MPH, the gas motor kicks in and gives a lively feel when driving at high speeds or on the highway. Another benefit of having a gas motor included with the electric motor is that the electric motor charges while the car is running. The drivers of only electric cars have been left stranded in the past because of battery problems. Hybrid owners don't have to worry about getting stranded since the gas motor starts automatically when the battery of the eclectic motor starts dying out and then recharges the battery while driving. Hybrids may sound overwhelming but this new technology does come at a price, a high one at that. Hybrids are very expensive because of the extra motor and extra features but it pays for itself in a financial way if the car is driven in the city a lot considering the less significant amount of gas you have to purchase. Hybrids are the best when it comes to gas, they are the most gas efficient cars of all time. They typically get 48 to 60 MPG. The electric motor isn't the only thing that makes the hybrid fuel efficient, aero dynamics are improves, weight reduction, and smaller engine. The hybrid is more than a better choice for fuel; it comes with many green advantages as well. In large cities, pollution is the worst, since the hybrid is best for cities; the hybrid will produce very little emissions into the city when driving at low speeds and while stuck in unavoidable traffic. Honda and Toyota are the two largest producers when it comes to hybrids, even SUVs have are starting to become available in an optional hybrid. SUVs are easily the worst for fuel economy but the hybrid SUVs change that, hybrid SUVs such as the Cadillac Escalade, Ford Escape, and GMC Yukon can save you up to 30% in fuel costs and at the same time you won't be putting all those hazardous emissions in to our atmosphere.

        Energy is what makes the world work. Without the supply of energy, things would quickly grind to a halt. Most of us take energy for granted and depend on energy even for survival. Energy heats our homes, gives us transportation, communication, health and even our daily food supplies. While energy may be great, it has a negative aspect to it; it is slowly obliterating our very own earth. Energy creates smog, acid rain, climate change, nuclear radiation etc. The destructions threaten our generation and the generations yet to come. Most of the energy we consume comes from nonrenewable sources such as coal or oil. Alternative energy sources are needed as soon as possible such as wind power. Electricity from wind power is one of the fastest growing methods of electricity in the world. Wind turbines can create kinetic energy from moving air which does not affect the earth's atmosphere in a negative way. Wind turbines are mounted in locations where there is a lot of wind. Energy resulting from wind can also be converted in to hydrogen and can be used as a form of fuel for transportation. The use of wind energy reduces the environmental impact because it requires no fuel and does not produce any pollution or greenhouse gases. We have used the sun for drying clothes for hundreds of thousands of years, but only recently humans discovered a way to use the sun to generate a source of power. The tiny fraction that hits the earth is enough to supply power needs for the whole world numerous times. In fact, in one minute, enough energy enters the earth to meet the world's demands for a whole year. There are three ways to convert the suns energy. The first is by solar cells, the solar panels allow the light given off from the sun convert directly in to electricity. You can get enough power to run a 100W light bulb from just one square meter of solar panel. Another way to convert the suns energy is by solar water heating where heat from the sun is used to heat water in glass panels on a roof. This also eliminates the use of gas or electricity to heat the water for use at home. This doesn't just the environment; it also cuts your fuel bills. The last way to convert the suns energy is by solar towers. In the middle of a greenhouse, a very tall tower can be put into place. The hot air from the greenhouse rises up to the tower and can drive turbines along the way. This can generate a significant amount of power which also excludes any harm done to the atmosphere.

        Alternative fuels are great and all but they can actually cost you more than traditional fuels. The cost installation to enable the use of some alternative fuels can make a huge dent in your wallet. Many alternative fuels require modification of infrastructure. Sometimes it may be better just to purchase a whole new product instead of altering it. It is possible to make any car eco-friendly but the costs to do that can be so high, that you might as well just purchase a brand new hybrid car. There are some tax benefits, however. Installations that enable families to use alternative fuels are tax deductible. Many cars powered by alternative fuels are subject to a tax credit ranging from $2,500 to $7,500. Residential improvements utilizing and enabling fuel use may also qualify for a residential renewable energy tax credit. Propane and natural gases are cheaper than electricity; however propane's price fluctuates commonly. Because propane and natural gas are both tied to limited supplies, their costs are expected to rise tremendously in the future. Since biodiesel's price depends on crops, its price fluctuates. When a drought occurs or when there is a high demand of food, prices will rise. The price is lowered by the government, making it a cheaper source for fuel. It is currently, just about the same price as gasoline but it is said to be that biodiesel will become reasonably lower. The cost of an electric or hybrid car is higher than the traditional gasoline engine car but in the long run, the costs of keeping the car running are significantly lower.

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