Home to seven billion people, Earth is one of the smallest planets in our solar system (its circumference is around 40 thousand kilometers at the equator) and its estimated age is about 4.5 billion years. It is the only planet we know of that supports life. In fact, it has so much life, that humans don’t even know how many species of Flora and Fauna call Earth home. Although scientists have identified 2 million species, the National Foundation’s “Tree of Life” has estimated the real number to be anywhere between 5 million to 100 million. Some entomologists are saying that we have only touched the surface of understanding animal life. And yet all these species rely on energy to survive, and a majority of them depend on a circular process of energy supply that starts with plants’ capturing sunlight (photosynthesis) that turn into food and oxygen for other living organisms.
However, the sun is not the only way humans can retrieve energy from nature. The use of fossil fuels as an alternative source of energy has been utilized by humans since the Industrial Revolution. Unfortunately, the use of fossil fuels has contributed to human-made climate change, which threatens all life as we know it. There are a number of effects of climate change, such as melting glaciers, a rise in ocean temperatures, drought and famine, and more frequent extreme weather events. Climate change is one of the greatest challenges humanity has ever faced.
Humanity can impact the ecology in myriad, profound ways. Macquarie Island in the southwest Pacific Ocean is an interesting case to exemplify this impact. After the discovery of Macquarie Island in 1810, people brought cats to the island to eat rats and mice that threatened the sailors’ grain stores. Later, in 1878, rabbits were introduced to provide food for the sailors. Unfortunately, the rabbits provided easy prey for the island’s cats, causing the cat population to grow; the rabbits also damaged the island’s native vegetation. People decided to reduce the rabbit population via a disease called myxomatosis, which was only fatal to rabbits. It did its work well and decreased the population from a peak of 130,000 to less than 20,000, and the vegetation recovered. However, with fewer rabbits, the cats began to hunt the island’s native birds, damaging their population. People decided to eradicate cats and the last cat was removed from the island in 2000. But with this move, the rabbit population increased dramatically and caused substantial damage to native vegetation. Human interference in the natural balance cost Macquarie Island around $16 million.
With the reserves of fossil fuels depleted, governments and companies have focused on alternative energy resources. In this regard, interest in renewable energy resources has increased, as they allow countries to both stay independent from fossil fuels and reduce the impact of climate change. Abundant energy from the sun, the wind, plants, and the Earth itself can provide some or all of our energy needs while also conserving the Earth’s natural resources without having any adverse effect on the environment.
The need for renewables is more pressing than ever. With the Earth’s population continuing to grow, and many developing countries revamping their electrical grid, the need for electrical energy has continued to increase, too. In 2004, this demand was 17,450 TWh (terawatt-hour), but it is estimated that the world will consume 31,657 TWh by 2030. To date, most electricity has come from fossil fuels. To tackle this crisis, renewable energies such as solar, wind, biomass, and hydroelectric power will be necessary, and research must increase in proportion to need.
In the wind sector, energy management of power generated from wind turbines has become an important issue. Countries are already seeing the benefits – to their power grid and their employment numbers – from increasing their wind power capabilities.
Wind energy is another form of solar energy, as it is derived from the sunlight that heats up the Earth’s surface. Since land warms faster than the surface of water, the warm air above the land rises due to the lighter density of warm air. Cold air from the surface of the ocean moves in to the land to fill the gap generated by the rising warm air. This replacement creates wind, and it’s why we so often feel wind on the beach or lakefront. Moving air is strong and pushes the blades of the wind turbines, which are connected to the generator, which then produces electricity. Thanks to the low costs associated with wind power, wind energy is the world’s fastest growing renewable energy source.
Wind power has been used for decades, even centuries, in Europe, but it is only now catching on in the US. In March 2009, Vice President Joe Biden announced plans to invest $3.2 billion in energy efficiency and energy conservation projects in the United States. If implemented correctly, this plan could decrease the demand for electricity by 50% across the country. This would result in achieving more than $500 billion in net savings over 20 years and reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 90 million vehicles.
Using wind energy would be a tremendous way to begin cleaning the Earth. Considering the population growth and increase in energy demand in the coming years, switching to wind energy is be a viable move. Countries like the USA, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Turkey, Australia, China, Japan, and South Korea are doing a good job developing energy policies that favor wind turbine manufacturers and encourage wind energy. These policies may include tax reductions or exemptions, a quota system, or research. Therefore, these policies may help develop awareness of the wind energy industry and help humanity stop the coming climate catastrophe.
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