A Fuel for the Future
Global warming is no longer a questionable theory. The United States has recently experienced hurricanes, minor droughts, and severe cold, all of which have spurred discussion about global warming. The scientific claim is that the average global temperature is steadily increasing due in part to carbon dioxide production and emission. Electricity production and automobile transportation are the two largest producers of carbon dioxide in the United States; together, they were responsible for roughly 72 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the year 2004. Today, nearly 50 percent of the Unites State’s electricity is supplied by coal, which emits more carbon dioxide than any other fuel used in the U.S. (Schulz 2).
Slowing the progression of global warming will require a large-scale effort from the world’s industrial leaders. Finding a solution to America’s reliance on fossil fuel-based energy is a worthy venture because nearly every American uses some form of fossil fuel energy. For example, the rising price of natural gas in the United States has a far reaching effect because most homes in the U.S. contain appliances fueled by natural gas (United States Department of Energy’s Nuclear Power 2010 Program 2). If we could replace this conventional energy with an alternative energy that does not emit greenhouse gases, the result could be extremely beneficial to the environment.
It is too late to act before the effects of global warming become obvious. Although advances have been made in developing usable alternative energies such as nuclear, wind, and solar power, each of these energy sources has drawbacks and short-comings. Nuclear energy is similar to gasoline or coal. For example, it is non-renewable, and because the mining and milling the uranium ore needed to produce nuclear energy requires the use of fossil fuels to power equipment such as bulldozers and trucks, it is not carbon dioxide free. Additionally, there is the unavoidable risk of nuclear accidents such as those at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, as well as speculation that radiation from nuclear reactors causes cancer. Wind and solar energy are renewable, but both sun and wind are intermittent and, therefore, would be unable to supply one hundred percent of the United States’ energy needs. Considering that energy consumption in the United States is rising, the need for an alte! rnative energy source is undeniable. If I could make one scientific discovery, I would like to discover a way to either utilize or invent a safe, reliable, and renewable energy source that produces zero green house gas emissions. I believe that is one of the most needed discoveries, and that the fight to preserve our environment is one of the most important challenges the world will face in the years to come.
Schulz, Max, Brice Smith, and Arjun Makijani. “Nuclear power: both sides.” The Wilson Quarterly 30.4 (2006): 59.
United States. Department of Energy’s Nuclear Power 2010 Program. Nuclear Power 2010 Program. Washington: GPO, 2005.