I say we scratch the whole 'coal, oil, petroleum and other fossil fuel energy idea' to power our country (and world). We all know resources are running out, and as the name implies, we won't be getting them back. Not only that, but using these resources are clearly very bad for the environment, AND they are crazy expensive. If we didn't have to worry about spending so much money on this type of energy, other aspects of our economy and individual lifestyles would flourish!
I know our society can't instantly change to a new energy source. But why aren't we taking bigger steps?
What Are The Alternative Energy Sources?
Solar Power (Active and Passive)
Biomass (Organic fuels such as wood or ethanol that can be replaced when used sparingly)
Many argue that these energy sources are not very practical, that non of these can compare to the power of fossil fuels. Well to an extent this is true. But it is NOT true when you implement a comprehensive approach and utilize all the renewable energy sources for the purposes they best fit.
Why These Renewable Energy Sources Are Better
Cleaner and safer for the environment (Little to no pollution)
Literally lasts forever (at least till planet earth dies off millions or billions of years from now)
Easier! - From a design and construction standpoint, I find that once you have developed an energy sustainable structure (building, vehicle, etc...), it is actually easier to create and maintain this structure on and off site.
Cheaper! - At the moment, optimizing a structure that currently runs on renewable energy is expensive but pays for itself relatively fast (Maybe a few years). However, if you replaced every 'oil company' with a 'solar, geothermal, biomass, wind, hyrdo company' it would actually COST LESS for these renewable energy source driven structures to be developed.
Not everyone is convinced though that it is that easy to build a self-energy-sustaining home. Costs are too high even if it is practical to build a house that utilizes several of these renewable energy sources. Well it is only costly because the availibility is much lower than the traditional way of doing things. If the individuals who can make the changes were to initiate, then a great change would overtake.
The Design of a Self-Efficient Home
Most houses in the United States can easily survive off of just passive and active solar power with a bit of careful design such as building the structure facing 'solar south' and providing thermal mass insulation, by building the house into the earth rather than above the earth where heat would be much easier lost. These are very basic steps to creating an energy efficient home and should be implemented in 100% of new housing structures.
Wind-power farms are being developed in some areas with much success but should be seen more frequently, even individual homes can benefit from a few strategically placed wind generators.
Hydro-electric is often questionable as it can actually negatively affect the environment if not done carefully. Using high power damns can dramatically alter the flow of rivers which changes everything around it, usually for the worse. We need to be careful about how we implement this strategy, but it certainly should not be ignore, or overused. Utililizing ocean from tides and waves on the shores have generally been less detrimental, but of course can only apply to a relatively small area of the population.
Is excreting our bodily wastes into a big bowl of clean, semi-purified, drinkable water the best solution to sewage control? Can garbage be harvested as a viable bio-fuel with proper recycling habits? Many houses cost thousands of dollars in oil bills a year, if you could redesign your home for $4,000, but would only have to pay a hundred dollars a year (maintenance) for the rest of your life... would you?
The Backwoods Survival Blog contains several interesting conversations of related energy issues. Check out the Peak Oil discussion here.
Related Survival Gear Recommended by Skip and Cliff - Join The Movement!
We'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter! Please join the discussion by posting in the comments section.
SorenDate 3/2/2012 8:06:00 PM
I am seeing people get solar panels all around me these days. Several of my neighbors. I am seeing more windmill generators. The electric car thing is not really a great fix, it is just another way to extend the problem. The electricity still uses fossil fuels, just not as much.
PeteDate 3/16/2012 6:57:00 PM
Yea but the electric car idea is seriously extending the problem. Gas vehicles NEED to go. And I agree about solar and wind power. What people don't realize is that there are so many places that can utilize thesse energy sources and dont. Not only is it better for our planet but its cheaper! Most alternative energy sources have a 5-10 year payback. That means after that you are saving $$$!
DevinDate 3/19/2012 12:22:00 AM
Pete you are absolutely right. The electricity used to run electric cars is still produced by fossil fuels as Soren stated. I am writing an extended essay on converting our world to safe renewable energy. Check back soon for the update!!
SebastianDate 4/29/2012 4:08:00 AM
If we had the money, we wouldn't hesitate to transform our house ! Solar panels are super effective but they're really not cheap :/ But my neighbor just put some on his roof and told me he was really happy with his investment. I'm pretty much sure that when I'll have my own house, it'll be designed as a self-efficient home.