Thursday, December 20, 2007

Save our Earth

I'm disappointed to hear that the world is not looking for better alternative solutions to the problem of greenhouse gas pollution and the demand for more energy due to a growing world population. For decades, scientists have been researching the effectiveness and efficiency of solar panels and wind turbines for the generation of energy and at the use of biofuels as an alternative for gasoline. But, it is clear that the only two alternatives at the moment are to stick to refining oil until it is completely depleted and to utilize uranium for nuclear power generation until the world comes up with a better idea that 'is worth investing in'.

Today, oil is a powerful resource that can make a country and it's leaders very powerful in a world that depends on it. We depend on it to maintain our modern civilization without even thinking twice about the impact of its use. So what happens when this 'precious' oil resource is depleted? From the perspectives of world leaders we will be left with the struggle to meet demand for energy within the transportation, industrial, and domestic sectors. The thought of there being mass rolling blackouts around the world is not so pretty to them, although the thought of the impact of greenhouse gas pollution on public health and the environment does not even come to mind for such leaders. What's worse-- a population without electricity or people without a healthy Earth? I guess their perspectives do not reach this far..

Perhaps people around the world do not realize how precious our Earth is-- that it is a one-of-a-kind planet that we know of that human-beings can thrive on. However, our planet can only sustain so much damage and degradation. Just like human beings, our Earth too is sensitive to the impact of unnatural processes such as conventional energy generation and use. The Earth can be harmed too to the point where the damage is permanent. One obvious example is greenhouse gas emissions that continuously pollute the Earth's atmosphere which directly effects the natural water cycle and carbon cycle causing acid rain and raised atmospheric temperatures, respectively.

In this modern day there is much discussion about the negative impacts of conventional energy-generating technologies such as coal-fired generation and oil. In the modern world, people are being asked to carpool and drive less in order to reduce their environmental footprint and contribute to a healthy planet. Although these measures can work, there still remains a lack of awareness of the sensitivities of the environment as a big picture. People still feel that if the problem does not lie in their backyard and they are doing everything they can to take care than the change is positive.. However, regularly buying products at the Dollar Store or Walmart only increases one's environmental footprint because they are in turn supporting the industrial sectors of China and the USA that are currently in a battle for oil. The awareness of the far-reaching impacts of one's choices in life is little to non-existent!

The Ontario government thinks that it can make a positive change for the Earth by educating the public on the impact of coal-fired generation on the environment and in so doing has committed to phasing out its 5 coal-fired generation plants by a target date that keeps changing. However, since these coal-plants generate the base-load energy for the 6 million energy-demanding residents of Ontario there will be a desperate need for energy from another source. This source is uranium to generate nuclear power and Canada has a lot of it. This puts Canada in a very pleasing position since the uranium resource is vast and the oil resource that so many countries depend on is rapidly depleting. The Canadian government feels that nuclear power is clean and reliable and can replace coal-fired generation in Canada and around the world and, as such, is advertising it's uranium resource and its methods of generating nuclear power to the world, including USA, China, and Pakistan. Nuclear plants cost billions of dollars to build and operate and there is little public discussion on how the nuclear waste should be handled. Will the question of the Earth's sensitivities come up when we are stuck in a world of nuclear waste? It seems that world leaders today still have the attitude of "Let's just wait and see what happens'.. Let's not get the world worried about what their children will have to deal with in the future.. What's important is to maintain power over the world for as long as possible." In contrast, the important question to ask is what will be the result of decades of nuclear waste on this planet? Or even worse, what will be the result of a world war if there are nuclear plants all over the planet?

Nuclear power is not the answer to save our Earth today. We need to more often discuss about alternative energy generating technologies such as renewable energy technologies and we must always discuss solutions to problems such as greenhouse gas emissions and manufacturing and use of synthetic products. We need to be less consumerist and more pro-active! We need to educate our children about the environmental footprint of being consumers. We are not material creatures-- we are human beings from nature!

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