Elephants in the Sky
Imagine 6.5 billion female elephants in the sky every year. Now imagine that every person in the US was responsible for 5 of those elephants up there while people in third world countries each put up 5 baby elephants. This may be a farfetched thought, but now imagine each of those elephants being made out of carbon dioxide. This is how much CO2 is in the sky. Let me reiterate: every year, twenty six billion tons of CO2 is put into the atmosphere each year. And Americans put an average of twenty tons of this noxious smog there, while each person in a third world country puts about one ton. This is a severe problem, as we have climate change occurring so much to the point that the Dead Sea may be completely evaporated by 2050 (Deal Could 'refill' Drying Dead Sea.) The world still needs energy, however, and third world countries need it even more than anyone else in the world in order to have a good future. So how do we solve this dilemma?
Recently, hydraulic fracking has been on the news for giving us a great amount of oil and it is great that there is more energy available, but this is causing people not to worry about energy problems. On the down side, oil can last for only so long and shale oil may only last until 2020. Even further, oil itself may only last until 2040, giving us less than 26 years to put our act together and find a solution. (Dimick, Natural Geographic) Along with this, communities surrounding oil fracking areas have reports of poisoned drinking water, polluted air, mysterious animal deaths, industrial disasters and explosions. (Fracking Across the United States)
Looking at this prospect, we have to find a solution to lower the amount of carbon dioxide put into the air as close as we can get to 0. This can be found through simple multiplication; the formula is the amount of people times the amount of services used, times the energy each service takes, times the amount of CO2 released through the service. (Gates, TED)
In the formula, we first have the amount of people on the planet. We know that we cannot somehow rid the Earth of people, so this number will either stay the same or go higher. Next, we have the amount of services that each person receives. These services may be having enough drinking water, being able to have light at night, or even being able to cook food. We could remove these services, but it would be harmful toward society, especially to poorer countries where having simple pleasures such as food or light are difficult.
Thirdly, the amount of energy services are taking is generally going down, which is a good thing. We have cleaner cars, televisions that use less power, and more cleaner forms of electricity coming out, such as solar or wind power. At the same time, we have services that are using too much energy such as making fertilizer or burning coal. Therefore, this may lower the overall number, but it is going to make a small difference.
Finally, we come to the last variable in this problem: the amount of carbon dioxide released by the service . Inside any multiplication equation, in order to have a result of zero, it is required to have a zero in the equation. What’s great is that it is possible to bring the amount of carbon dioxide required down to zero! However, in order to accomplish this, we need to have energy breakthroughs, and we need it fast. There are many possibilities, but the ones that seem to have the most promise are nuclear energy and renewable energy. However, if there happens to be more successful sources of clean energy, then the better it will be. But once again, at this time, these sources seem to be the most promising.
In the field of Nuclear Energy, many major innovations are being made as a company called Transatomic Power, founded by 2 graduates from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have possibly found a more efficient method of energy creation. Nuclear energy creates a lot of toxic waste. What Transatomic Power has done is find a way to convert this once thought useless sludge to an abundance of energy. In fact, Cofounder of PayPal, Peter Thiel has invested more than a billion dollars to Transatomic Power. (Kim, Business Insider) This is the kind of action that we need in order to move forward in society.
In the field of renewable energy, there is an abundance of potential for success. However, compared to oil, these renewable energies only give a fraction of power. Research needs to be done in order to increase efficiency of this type of power. For example, wind power generates less than 5% of the energy that oil provides us. There is much work that can be done in this field, but if it works then, it will be very beneficial toward the future of energy.
In the end, we need to reduce the amount of CO2 in the air. Along with that, we need innovations that can take us there. We may find more ways to obtain oil, but there must be a better method that can be found in order to not only help this country, but the whole world. And we have to do it fast. We cannot have anymore elephants in the air. Not even one.
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