In 2015, the United States invested $44.1 billion in renewable energy. Yet for every dollar spent developing renewables, nearly $4 was spent to maintain the country's dependence on fossil fuels.
Oil, coal and natural gas are derived from the accumulated remains of ancient plants and animals. Burning these fuels releases the carbon from these ancient organisms into the atmosphere. This increases the amount of greenhouse gas and is considered to be one of the principal causes of global warming.
NASA, NOAA and other scientific agencies insist it is fact, not an opinion, that the burning of fossil fuels has increased global temperatures over the last century.
When we talk about renewable energy, we are talking about harnessing energy sources that are more or less consistent and will not be depleted.
The advantages of using renewables are obvious. Resources like the sun, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal and biopower will not run out and do not release any damaging material.
Conversely, fossil fuels are nonrenewable. When burned, they release carbon dioxide and other particulates that are damaging to human health. Sulfur released through the burning of these fuels produces acid rain. As a result, coral reefs are dying through ocean acidification.
The Renewable Electricity Futures Study found that an 80 percent renewable future is feasible with current available technology. This includes wind turbines, solar photovoltaic, biopower, geothermal and hydropower. A comprehensive study by the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows that the United States could generate most of its electricity from renewable sources by 2050.
Countries around the world are embracing renewable technology. China is investing $361 billion into renewable energy to meet its long-term energy needs. Other countries like Sweden, Germany, Scotland and Ireland are racing toward being the first countries to be free of producing electricity from fossil fuels. Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, India, Nepal, Brazil and Guyana are seeing rapid expansion of small-scale renewable systems. Countries with few resources are opting for renewables because they are not only the most environmentally sound, but also the cheapest options.
Developing renewable energy systems that will carry us far into the future is a better choice than propping up outdated systems where the fuel required will eventually run out. It is better to keep the carbon that is locked in fossil fuels in the ground, rather then releasing it back in the atmosphere. Investing in renewable energy is a far better choice for ensuring a sustainable future.
Sustainable Downbeach is working toward creating a healthier, friendlier community with an eye on protecting the environment. For information or to get involved see Sustainable Downbeach on Facebook.