In our 21st century, there has been and certainly will continue to be discussions and heated debate about the future of energy. Currently, our civilization rests on the continuation of non-renewable energy sources, like oil and coal. But, there are major problems with these sources. One issue is that they have the potential to create extremely costly side effects to our world, and to our health. Another of course is that we are past the era of peak oil.
We need oil right now in order to keep the system that was devised in the 20th century working. Oil and coal is very effective when it comes to what we need them to support. But, ultimately oil in particular remains to be a highly dangerous substance to move even as it becomes a dwindling resource.
Fossil fuels are a risky business
In recent news, oil transportation in particular has proven to be an area of great risk. Moving oil across vast regions is a dangerous business, regardless of the method for doing so. These are noxious materials that are also highly flammable. There is no way to transport it in such a way that it is completely safe, and the consequences are far reaching when things go wrong, as we’ve seen.
This isn’t just about environmental damage that the rapid movement of oil through pipelines can cause. It’s about human safety, and human lives lost. The recent story of a oil train derailment in Lac-Megantic Quebec has been a tragic example of that. This is another sense of the term “energy costs”.
Mitigating the risks with alternative solutions
The best we can do is to mitigate the risks. So, the discussions on how to ween our civilization off of dependence on fossil fuels remains to be a high ranking agenda item on the radar of governments, of environmental organizations, and private citizens, too.
In answer to that, we’ve heard a lot about wind power and certainly a lot about solar power as a way to eliminate the risks . We’ve seen how extensively these forms of alternative energy has been developed and implemented, particularly in places like Germany, Sweden, Denmark, and also in Scotland where windpower in particular is becoming an important industry.
Another source of alternative energy is the sea, through tidal power, which is the logical extension of 20th century hydroelectric power during an era when most rivers that have been the source of standard hydroelectric power have been dammed and re-routed, at times causing disruption to local ecosystems.
Alternative energy and corporate interests
It’s not as if alternative energy is on the opposite side of corporate interests, and in the hands of dreamers and eco-fanatics. Companies like Siemens are developing tidal power technology as the future of alternative energy. General Electric is investing in wind power in China. Japanese electronics company Sharp have a thriving solar power division.
In this new era, it’s these kinds of development projects and investment directions that make the most sense for technology and energy companies of any size to pursue. After all, the future of profit only matters if the system that values profit can still operate. That isn’t easy to do when you’ve run out of gas. And very clinically speaking, it also pays to keep energy as healthy as possible, to make sure that your customer base is assured for the long-term.
Energy for human beings, not human beings for energy
Like most things that are simple and complicated alike, it’s all a matter of maintaining perspective. Our energy requirements are a means to an end. When populations are endangered because of our energy strategies, it’s time to rethink them. That’s really one of the strengths of renewables that’s hard to deny; they represent less risk to human life. And it’s human life that we’re all looking to sustain after all.
What are your thoughts on alternative energy and lowering the risk to people’s lives and homes?
Tell me all about it in the comments section.