Alternative fuels and renewable energy are also known as green energy. Green energy consists of solar energy, wind energy, biofuels and hybrids. To decrease costs of the technology to the consumer, the public needs to be made aware of what green energy products are available right now. The more products are sold, the more funds go into the development of alternative fuels will occur. We hope alternative fueled products will be economically feasible soon due to mass-production. Then we can all say - "who cares about oil?"
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Renewable Energy - Why it Matters to You
Simply put, renewable energy is energy produced from sources that will not run out, like energy from the sun, wind, or water; or energy that can be replenished, like energy from plants. People have been interested in renewable energy for a long time, but there is a new urgency to that interest. Our way of life has been based on an abundant, cheap fuel supply - petroleum. Everything from the cars we drive, to T.V. shows, hot showers, electric lights, the Internet, cell phones, and food piled high in grocery stores, are all brought to us through the use of petroleum based energy. But now, experts agree that we have passed peak oil production. That means we are entering a period of decline in oil production. From now on, whatever oil is produced will be more difficult to extract, and more expensive for the consumer. We already see this at the gas pump, in heating bills, and at the grocery store, and it's going to get worse.
Additionally, our use of petroleum products, particularly in automobiles and in industry, has lead to huge carbon dioxide emissions that are causing global warming. It is therefore essential that we find new ways of producing energy before we run out, and before we irreparably harm our planet's environment.
The good news is that there are many immediate sources of renewable energy, ones that people have been using for years. People have long used water mills and wind mills to grind wheat or corn; solar energy to heat their homes or grow their food. Solar energy, wind energy, and water energy are just three of the super abundant energy producers that are being developed. Solar panels are available for homes and businesses, which can both heat and cool buildings, provide hot water, and electricity. Wind turbines capture wind energy that can be transformed into electricity. Water energy can be captured wherever there is moving water - rivers, streams, or tides. This too can be transformed into electricity, and hydroelectric power plants are common along the banks of big rivers world wide. Though solar panels and wind turbines have been around for a while, now technologies are being developed to make these readily available and affordable for the average consumer.
There are additional energy sources being developed as well. Geothermal energy captures heat energy from the center of the planet that can be used to generate power and electricity. Bioenergy, or energy created from plants, shows great potential. Again, people have always used plant energy, for example when burning wood to heat their homes. Now, other plants are being developed to use as alternatives to petroleum, such as ethanol, a corn product that is combined with petroleum to replace gasoline in cars. Additionally soybeans, grasses, woody plants, and residual products from agriculture, logging, and even landfills, can potentially be used to create energy. Also, research is being done on the possibility of creating cheap energy from hydrogen, which is the most abundant element on our planet.
The looming specter of running out of oil combined with the urgency of global warming means that there is no time to waste. We must use our technological know-how to make these renewable sources of energy widely available for everyone's use. Green technology is a burgeoning field. Many big corporations are investing money into developing new ways of producing clean energy. Colleges and universities are increasingly offering degree programs in green fields, and you don't need to be a scientist to be involved. Many fields will be incorporated in the changeover of our economy from petroleum based to clean renewable energy. Whether your interest is politics, community outreach, advertising, housing and community design, car manufacturing, food production, medicine, or even fashion, every aspect of life will be altered. The old petroleum-based way of doing things is coming to an end; and a new, cleaner, renewable way of living is gearing up.
As a student, as a voter, or as a consumer, there are many ways we can support renewable energy on a personal basis. When buying a car, consider a hybrid, which runs on a combination of petroleum and a rechargeable battery. When buying food, buy organic products that aren't dependant on petroleum based fertilizers. Also, buy local food that doesn't travel thousands of miles to your plate. Support local businesses that tout the use of renewable energy. Vote for green candidates who support the development and use of renewable energy. Find out more about renewable energy and how it can benefit you and the earth's environment. And get involved.
Change happens when people demand it. We can demand change with our money, our votes, and our voices. The more people demand green products from renewable sources the more they will become available and the cheaper they will be. The more voters elect green candidates the more powerful their voices will be to lead change in government policies. The more we raise our voices to share what we've learned with others, the more we will all be in this together, creating a cleaner future, and a better world.