All of us have come to expect that reliable sources of energy will be available forever. We drive our cars wherever and whenever we want. When the gas tank gets low, we simply pull into the nearest gas station. At home, whenever we need to change the temperature, prepare food, listen to music, or watch TV, we simply turn on the nearest appliance. What is the source of all this energy that we use so carelessly? In most of the world, energy is created by burning fossil fuels – coal, natural gas, and oil. The problem is that these resources are finite. At our current rate of use, by the year 2080, the world’s supply of oil will be almost gone. That means, if you are under the age of forty, the day will probably come when you will not have enough gasoline for your car or electricity for your appliances. The three most commonly porposed solutions to this worldwide problem are increasing the efficiency of appliances and vehicles, improving conservation efforts, and finding alternative energy sources.
The first solution, increasing the efficiency of appliance and vehicles. is something that manufacturers have been working on for these three decades.For instance,televisions now use 65 to 75 percent less electricity than they did in the 1970s, refrigerators use 20 to 30 percent less electricity and cars need less gas to travel more miles. Unfortunately, there are so many more televisions, refrigerators, and cars in the world now that overall consumption continues to rise.
Another solution to the dangerous energy situation is to improve our conservation efforts. For example, all of us must get in the habit of recycling whatever we can. We have to install high efficiency light bulbs in our homes and offices and turn off the light in rooms that we are not using. It would also help if we biked, walked, carpooled, or used public transportation more and used our car less. unfortunately, improvements in both conservation more and used our cars less. unfortunately, improvements in both conservation and efficiency are only temporary solutions. They extend the useful life of our current fuels, but they do not explain what we will do when these fuels run out.
The best solution is to find alternative sources of energy to meet our future needs. The current leading alternatives to fossil fuels are fusion and solar energy. Fusion is a nuclear reaction that results in an enrmous release of energy. It is practically pollution-free and is probably our best long-range option. Unfortunately, it will not be available for at least twenty years. The other possible energy source, solar power, is the source of all energy, except nuclear, on Earth. When people think of solar energy, they generally think of the many ways that individual homeowners can utulize the power of the sun for heating water and buildings. But solar energy can also be utilized to generate electricity and to purify for automobiles.
It is clear that for us to have sufficient energy resources for the twenty-first century, it will be necessary to pursue the development and encourage the use of alternative energy sources worlwide. If we ignore this problem. what will become of our children? What will life be like for them in the year 2050???