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Ever since the realization that global warming posed a threat to the world became apparent, leaders from all corners of the world took or initiated measures to look for alternatives sources of energy. Thus, the establishment that the use of fossil fuels adversely affects the environment is important in explaining the shift to the use of renewable energy sources.
This paper looks into the development of renewable energy in order to replace non-renewable sources. The historical background, the current state and the future prospects surrounding the issue are put into perspective. In the end, the paper considers the solutions useful in redressing the situation.
Studies have pointed out that the free air in the upper atmosphere of the earth roughly one thousand meters above the ground is inclined to changes in temperature. The air is controlled by a solid temperature gradient, which increases as one nears the equator. As the gradient becomes stronger, the wind currents that are generated also get stronger.
However, as the temperature of the globe alternates and the cold poles experience increased temperatures, the gradient disappears at a slow rate until each part of the globe registers a steady increase in the temperature. The disappearance of the gradient occasions a decrease in the speed of wind.
This leads to adverse effects on the globe. Research has proved that over the last three decades the speeds of wind have been decreasing. It is alleged that vegetation growth contributes to this state of affairs. However, the use of non-renewable energy sources greatly contributes towards this state of affairs (Aitken 3-15).
The current state and projected improvements
After establishing that the use of non-renewable energy sources pose problems to the globe, attempts to shift focus to the use of the renewable sources have been ranked highly on the world agenda. Currently, the use of the renewable energy sources is at a low level.
This view is held since countries such as the United States currently rely on fossil fuels for around eighty-five percent of its energy requirements. Plant biomass is used in the generation of electricity, heat and liquid fuels (butanol and ethanol). However, the use of biomass accounts for only three percent of the total United States energy consumption affairs (Aitken 3-15).
Despite the discouraging statistics, the use of corn-based ethanol continues to register unprecedented growth. This is important as it underscores the value and the potential of the biofuel industry. It is however unfortunate that the use of corn has negative social, economic and environmental outcomes that pose challenges to the long-term sustainability of the source.
Use of renewable energy in Minnesota State
Amidst the concerns surrounding the development of new energy sources to replace the non-renewable energy sources, Minnesota has not been left behind. In this regard, it is noticeable that Minnesota continues seeking avenues to increase the generation of homegrown energy sources. Arguments concerning the provision of homegrown energy centre on the extent to which the public should contribute (Saleh and the University of Minnesota 2).
Towards helping the production of renewable energy, it is clear that the public has been on the forefront. In helping towards the development of renewable energy sources, the Minnesota State in conjunction with the Federal government has designed policies that offer both incentives and disincentives (Saleh and the University of Minnesota 2).
The policies also support education and research into the establishment and the use of renewable energy sources. Although, the strategy used by the Minnesota State is commendable, there is room for improvement. More specifically, the State should move beyond overreliance on one source of energy.
Three main reasons account for why Minnesota residents advocate for the development of alternative sources of energy. It is visible that energy prices are on the increase in the State. The petroleum products continue registering rising prices in addition to experiencing disruptions in supply.
Based on this, the residents would welcome the development of alternative sources of energy. In this regard, the development of alternative energy sources is expected to help lower the prices of energy in Minnesota. The other concern lies on the adverse effects of using non-renewable sources of energy.
In reference to this, the focus has been on global warming, which is directly related to increased carbon emissions to the atmosphere. As such, considerations on the production of energy without releasing carbon gases that contribute towards global warming are part of the Minnesota agenda.
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Thirdly, the Minnesota economy is as depressed as the rest of America based on the economic circles that have been experienced. As a result, exploring alternative energy sources is highly considered as a viable option.
It is expected that switching focus to the production and use of renewable energy would create new jobs in the State. Based on these observations, it is arguable that Minnesota is seeking to develop alternative energy sources that promote economic growth while taking into consideration environmental sustainability.
Renewable energy research on campus
Saleh and the University of Minnesota observe that campuses across the globe continue to play leading roles aimed at responding to the issue of energy use (2). By way of illustration, the University of Minnesota has launched a number of initiatives aimed at checking the issue.
The university, through its College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) has been in the forefront regarding the issue. The CFANS launched the Initiative on Renewable Energy and the Environment (IREE) to cater for research relating to the generation and the use of renewable energy.
The research centre was set up to pursue various goals. In this regard, the centre was to facilitate the conduct of research on microbes and plants with a view to developing genomics-based solutions to renewable energy generation.
Secondly, the research initiative sought to develop ecologically sustainable and economically feasible solutions in the production of biofuels from cellulosic and other biological sources. This was in specific reference to the production of other feedstock genotypes (Saleh and the University of Minnesota 2).
Effect of coal on great lakes environment
Using coal as a source of energy has serious repercussions. Despite this danger, the use of coal-fired plants continued increasing. As an illustration, there was a sixteen percent increase in coal use from 1992 to 2004 by power plants (Hordeski 76).
The issue of pollution is of utmost concern regarding the use of coal. It is estimated that over one hundred sixty million Americans reside within neighbors with unhealthy air. It is approximated that air pollution contributes to premature deaths and several ailments such as asthma, cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses (Hordeski 76).
There is an association between the cleanliness of air and the nature of rain that falls. In the recent times, the levels of contamination of the rainwater with mercury have increased tremendously (Hordeski 76). The coal-powered plants allegedly produce the mercury.
It is also clear to each individual that the rainwater ends up in the rivers and lakes across the country. Mercury adversely affects body tissues. More precisely, mercury contributes towards inflammation of body organs.
It is evident that mercury ends up in the Midwest and the Great lakes and rivers. Based on the establishment, questions emerging revolve around the overall danger that using coal as a source of energy has on the society.
To begin with, water is a habitat to several lives. Secondly, people rely on the water from lakes and the rivers for various purposes. Moreover, the water in the lakes and the rivers evaporates. After evaporation, the water forms clouds, which ultimately form rain. In this regard, the effect of contaminated rain is real. This poses serious concerns to human health.
It is unethical to expose humanity to the nature of problems that emerge above. It is thus not surprising that debate rages over the global warming issue ever since its effects began to take a toll on human life. Several measures such as using the legal mechanism present a plausible approach useful in addressing the problem.
Bills have been brought to the United Sates Congress to address the issue without much success (Duchane and Brown 13-19). It is also important noting that various measures have been initiated across the globe. In addition, several environmental activists have met in various cities to drum up support with a view to addressing the problem.
Further, it is important to note that protocols have been struck in a bid to contain the problem. At this point, it is perhaps necessary to reflect on the Kyoto protocol. Signed in 1994, the protocol made a raft of recommendations regarding how to tackle the problem. Although several recommendations were made, little progress has been made in regards to address the concerns.
In an attempt to mitigate the issue of climate change, (Duchane and Brown 13-19) hold the view that all States should pay reparations to poor countries that are worst hit by the global warming effects. Using this view, all plants that use coal and harm the lives of people in the process should compensate the society.
This is viewed in terms of debt where an environmental polluter is assumed to owe those that are affected. I agree with the views raised above that a debt system be introduced. However, this should be done in a way that reflects the individual contributions to global warming.
Those that bear the greatest responsibility should also pay the highest rates. As indicated above, the poor in society are the worst hit in this crisis. In this regard, they ought to be compensated in a way that ameliorates their level of suffering.
The United States should realize that using non-renewable energy sources pose serious problems to the society. As such, exploring various measures with a view to containing the concern should rank high among the priorities of the State.
The use of renewable energy sources offers the United States and the rest of the world a mechanism to reduce the adverse effects of using non-renewable energy sources. To achieve this goal, the different stakeholders have to play their roles diligently.
In this regard, the policy makers need to develop policies that promote the development and use of renewable energy sources. In addition, policy makers need to establish rules and regulations aimed at preventing coal-powered plants from polluting the environment. Alternatively, increasing taxation on the firms that pollute the environment should be considered. The money raised from such taxation should be channeled towards cleaning the environment.
Aitken, Donald W. Transitioning to a Renewable Energy Future, New York: International Solar Energy Society, 2010.
Duchane, Dave and Brown, Don. “Hot Dry Rock (HDR) Geothermal Energy Research and Development at Fenton Hill, New Mexico”. Geo-Heat Centre Quarterly Bulletin 23 (2010): 13–19.
Hordeski, Michael F. Megatrends for energy efficiency and renewable energy. Lilburn, GA: The Fairmont Press, Inc., 2011.
Saleh, Mohamed and University of Minnesota. Harvesting forest biomass for energy in Minnesota: An assessment of guidelines, costs and logistics. Michigan: ProQuest, 2007.