As a people we should be concerned about depleting our natural resources and leaving the world a better place for future generations. Back as far as 1956, Doctor Hubbert (2011, p.12) attempted to calculate and project our oil production into the future. His best guestimates were based upon oil reserves in the area of 150 – 200 billion barrels and suggested that oil production would peak about 1965 to 1971 and then begin to decline. (p.13) Many energy experts believe Hubbert’s estimates were spot on given the information he had to use in his calculations, but feel it could be refined with the better data available today.
There are many other methods for procuring petroleum or other materials that could be used for energy production that have been gaining momentum. Currently, the USA uses 21 billion barrels of oil per day, yet has only 4 % of the population. (2011, p.17) China and India make up almost 1/3 of the world’s population and are using more and more oil each year. This increase in population combined with more petroleum demand is bound to create some changes in the chemistry of our earth’s atmosphere. ( p.20) Scientists in the 1980’s determined that the sunlight reaching the earth was getting slimmer. As time goes by, competition for such resources will increase and the plight of our world as we know it will become more in peril. Therefore, it is critical that we, as a global environment, pursue other, more sustainable alternatives for fuel and energy sooner rather than later.
According to the authors, (2011, p.49.) “The amount of sunshine striking the surface of our planet annually provides more than 10,000 times the amount of energy that all humanity can use in a year…Solar energy makes up less than 1 percent of the world’s production of power.” For decades we have tapped into the sun’s rays to heat water in swimming pools and homes. McNerney and Martin (p.51) state that we could…”use the sun to provide a free and steady source of energy.” They also believe that there are serious drawbacks to that use, most importantly…”it is not yet cost-competitive with fossil-fuel energy.” And “…depends on the seasonal climate and weather of a location.” (p.53)
“The United States today gets a little over 1 percent of its electric power supplied by wind energy.” (2011, p.55) There is no pollution from wind production and it is free to harvest. The downside of wind power is that it is inconsistent. There are areas across the USA experimenting with wind power that can, and do, help offset energy produced from their regular power grids.
Water is another resource that has great potential to help us diminish our thirst for petroleum based energy. “About 24% of the world’s electric power is currently produced by hydropower. In America, it makes up 12% of the generated electricity and equals 75% of all electricity generated by renewables.” (2011, p.59)
These are not the only potential resources that could replace fossil fuel in our future. There is also, methane gas, corn and other by-products, used cooking oil, sugar cane, and more. With more emphasis placed on how we can become energy independent we could probably solve our energy problems and help keep our earth greener and cleaner. Doing so will take a concerted effort from leaders across America and the world, as well as, dedication from our top scientific and technological minds coupled with business organizations willing to let go of our old ways of doing things in order to move forward in meaningful sustainable ways that will make the world a more hospitable and healthier world for all to live in.
Congressman Jerry McNerney, Ph.D. and Martin Cheek, Clean Energy Nation, 2010, AMACOM, ISBN 978-8144-1372-2, 309 pages