Story last updated at 4/22/2009 - 10:59 am
Editor's note: This is part of a series of essays written last fall by Floyd Dryden eighth grade students in Samantha Davis' class.
Have you ever seen one of your family's energy bills and gasped at the prices? If so, there are some things you should know. We are becoming far too dependent on oil, and as a result we are running out of it. With alternative energy we can change all that. Alternative energy is energy that does not come from coal or oil burning, such as wind turbines, solar cells, hydroelectric dams, and geothermal plants. The sources are clean, with little or no emissions. Alternative energy is the new way for the United States. The question is why and how.
Our economy would benefit greatly from alternative energy. Nowadays we spend around $60,180,000 on oil a day. The use of alternative energy could decrease those numbers significantly, lowering our reliance on oil. We consume approximately 20 million barrels of oil a day, 13 million of which are imported. Therefore, 65 percent of our oil comes from other countries, namely Saudi Arabia. This expenditure is leaving our economy and not benefiting our country. If we produced our own alternative energy, other nations might take interest and invest in us, bringing money into our economy. In Barack Obama's new energy plan, 5 million environmentally friendly jobs would be created. Not only would there be more jobs, but also the economy would flourish.
Alternative energy would not only help the economy, it would help the environment. As we all know, much of the earth is now polluted, due to factories and cars spewing greenhouse gases, and with an ever decreasing number of trees to filter those gases. If conventional burning systems were replaced by alternative energy systems, it would add less to the world's pollution.
For example, a 750 watt wind turbine can prevent 1500 tons of Co2 from being released. These systems would not take fuel to run, for they run on natural elements. Wind turbines take their energy from wind currents, and hydroelectric dams and ocean turbines run on the flow of water. Energy can even be taken from the ground itself, as in geothermal. As its name suggests, geothermal energy comes from within the earth in the form of hot springs or steam. It is a renewable energy source because it comes from rainwater that is heated by the earth's mantle.
On the other hand, getting the oil we need has its consequences. If a spill occurs only 15% can be cleaned up. One such oil spill, the Exxon-Valdez dumped 11 million gallons of crude oil in Prince William Sound, killing almost 300,000 animals and having extending effects for years to come. With alternative energy, and without the constant need for drilling, we would harm the earth less and help it more.
So what else is so special about alternative energy? Simple: it works. Alternative energy has a good track record and an even better future. Take for example the international space station. It runs on primarily solar power which it gathers with almost an acre of solar panels. Already this example has been followed by solar farms and wind farms. In Wisconsin, a wind farm called Kewaunee can produce enough energy to power 3,300 homes.
Even some towns are run mainly on hydroelectric dams, like Juneau, which uses hydro-power in all seasons except winter. Customers see a "power cost adjustment" when the reservoir runs short of water to generate hydro power and the electric company needs to supplement that power with diesel generation. As already acknowledged, this idea has opened doors for business.
According to their "Promoting a Healthy Environment" plan, Barack Obama and Joe Biden have promised to "double federal science and research funding for clean energy projects." They will also invest in job training for people who work in the field of energy programs so they can adapt to new ways of clean technology. Soon research for alternative energy will be expanded and the whole idea of alternative energy will be a big industry. To complement this, technology is improving.
New, more efficient systems are being developed and a multitude of other technologies with them. A massive solar farm is planning to be built in Arizona, using heat, not light to produce energy. It has the potential to power 70,000 homes.
A change in energy harvesting would result in a healthier environment, and on a bigger scale, a healthier world. It's good for environment, it would help the economy and it has been proven to be effective. We are in an age of technology, and we should utilize the potential for alternative energy.
Energy Information Administration. Retrieved 12/2/08 from http://www.eia.doe.gov/basics/quickoil.html.
The Obama-Biden energy plan for America. Retrieved 12/2/08 from http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/newenergy.
The CIA world fact book. Retrieved 12/2/08 from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/print/us.html.
Donatoni, M. "Offshore Drilling." Retrieved 12/2/08 from http://cseserv.engr.scu.edu/StudentWebPages/MDonatoni/ResearchPaper.htm.
Exxon Valdez creates oil slick disaster-BBC. Retrieved 12/2/08 from http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/march/24/newsid_4231000/4231971.stm.
International Space Station overview. Retrieved 12/2/08 from http://www.shuttlepresskit.com/ISS_OVR/index.htm.
Solar farm to rise over 3 square miles in Arizona. Retrieved 12/2/08 from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23464740/
Barack Obama and Joe Biden: Promoting a Healthy Environment. Retrieved 12/2/08 from http://www.barackobama.com/pdf/issues/EnvironmentFactSheet.pdf.
Energy Kid's Page, Energy Information Administration, Geothermal Energy-Energy from the Earth's Crust. Retrieved 12/2/08 from http://www.eia.doe.gov/kids/energyfacts/sources/renewable/geothermal.html.