Ever since the Industrial Revolution, the world’s energy consumption has been increasingly problematic. Oil and gas heat up our planet, and with more and more technological devices needing power, oil, and gas, heat up our planet at a faster and faster rate. Something needs to change if we are to avoid turning our planet into a desert. We can either change our habits or change our sources of energy towards sustainable energies.
As you might know from experience, changing one’s habits is extremely hard. So the better and easier path might be to change our sources of energy towards sustainable energies. Let’s take a look at what that requires, where we are at the moment, and what the consequences of such a change might be.
The Past and the Present of Sustainable Energies
For a long time, our only source of energy was fossil fuels. We didn’t have the knowledge or the technology to develop sustainable energies. Yet, we eventually learned to extract energy from wind, sun, water, and atoms. This gave rise to whole new possibilities.
Some of these possibilities were extremely expensive in the beginning. Sustainable energies like windmills and solar panels were not affordable for most countries, companies, or individuals. But this has luckily changed. Today wind and solar power are the cheapest energy sources in history. The path for fully sustainable energies has thus been paved. It has never been this easy to make the transition.
But some of these new possibilities have also ended in catastrophe. After the disasters of Chernobyl and Fukushima, many became skeptical or afraid of nuclear power. For decades, this power source – although green – has had a bad reputation. Of course, it is reasonable to be cautious, but technology has developed a lot since the disasters that marked its beginning. It has become many, many times safer, and we might need this source in order to make the transition fully. Because wind power only works when there is wind, and solar power only works when there is sun. Water power always works, but this technology isn’t as developed yet as nuclear power (and water power also has the potential for catastrophe – imagine a water power plant breaking apart and thus flooding everything for miles around!). So right now, we are experiencing a revival of nuclear power and an improvement of its reputation.
And we need this revival because the sustainable transition has a time limit, too. We are running out of fossil fuels, so even if you don’t care about climate change, you should still care about sustainable energy sources.
Here is a TED-Ed video diving into this topic:
The Renewable Transition
We are on a good way to make the transition, but a few challenges also exist along that path:
- The threat of unemployment: Jobs in the fossil fuel sector will disappear as a result of the transition.
- The geographical challenge: Few people want two have windmills or solar power plantations as neighbors. But where do we put our energy stations then?
- The energetic infrastructure: Our wires and many of our systems are designed to transport fossil fuel energy, and we would need a new infrastructure in order to run on sustainable energy sources. The charging stations of electrical cars is just one of many such topics.
- Political support: This is a massive transition and the best result will naturally follow if it has full political support.
If we manage to succeed with transitioning from fossil to renewable energy, we have taken a major step in saving the world. We still need to reduce our pollution, our consumption, and change our eating habits in order to truly save our world, but changing our energy source will create a lot more awareness and political attention to the issue of climate change. This will surely influence our other unsustainable habits positively.
What you can do to help the world manage this change is:
- Make sustainable consumer choices, like buying bio
- Support green initiatives like political youth groups, green ngos, green movements, etc.
- Reduce your waste production, eat more greens and less meat, etc.
- find out more about sustainable energies here, if you are interested
Together, we can make this happen!