Environment

  • Issue 116 / March - April 2017



    Cleaning the Earth with Wind

    Ulan Dakeev

    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.

     

    Macquarie
    Island

    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.

     

    Electrical
    energy

    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.

     



    Caring for the environment in the holy scriptures:



    The Qur’an 2: 205: “When he leaves (you) or attains
    authority, he rushes about the land to foment disorder and corruption therein,
    and to ruin the sources of life and human generations. Surely God does not love
    disorder and corruption.”



    Genesis 1: 26-28 and Psalm 8: 6-8: “Because they were
    created in His image, God gave men and women a privileged place among all
    creatures and commanded them to exercise stewardship over the earth.”



    Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:28: “See My works, how fine they are;
    Now all that I have created, I created for your benefit. Think upon this and do
    not corrupt and destroy My world. For if you destroy it, there is no one to
    restore it after you."



    The Suka Sutra: “The taking of lives causes the soil to be
    saturated with saline, and plants cannot grow. Fourth, lying contaminates the
    physical environment, causing it to be filthy and smelly.”



    Confucius: “Be lovingly disposed to people; be kind to
    creatures and things. Within three months of spring, none is allowed to cut
    trees during their growth period.”



     

     

    References

     

    Federal Energy Management Program
    (2003). Retrieved from
    www.eere.energy.gov

     

    Graedel, T. & Crutzen, P. (1989).
    Policy options for stabilizing Global Climate. National Service Center for Environmental Publications.[Electronic
    version]. Retrieved June 16th, 2011 form http://nepis.epa.gov

     

    Hyslop, B.,
    Davies, M., Wallace, A., Gazey, N.& Holroyd S. (1997). Effects of colliery
    waste on littoral communities in north – east England. Environmental Pollution. [Electronic version]. Retrieved from
    www.sciencedirect.com

     

    Jobert, A.,
    Laborgne, P. & Mimler, S, (2007). Local acceptance of wind energy: Factors
    of success identified in French and German case studies. Journal of Energy Policy, Elsevier. [Electronic version]. Retrieved
    January 29th, 2011, from www.elsevier.com/locate/enpol

     

    Leggett, M.
    (2006). An indicative costed plan for the mitigation of global risks. Elsevier. [Electronic version].
    Retrieved January 29th, 2011, from www.elsevier.com/locate/futures

     

    Milici, R. (2000). Depletion of
    Appalachian coal reserves - how soon? International
    Journal of Coal Geology.
    [Electronic version]. Retrieved September 15th,
    2011 from www.elsevier.com

     

    Stracher, G.& Taylor, T. (2004).
    Coal fires burning out of control around the world: thermodynamic recipe for
    environmental catastrophe. International
    Journal of Coal Geology.
    [Electronic version]. Retrieved January 29th,
    2011, from www.elsevier.com/locate/ijcoalgeo.

     

    CNN (2009). CNN world news network.

     

    Buddha (2011). Retrieved from http://www.blia.org/english/publications/booklet/pages/33.htm

     

    Judaism (2011). Retrieved from
    http://jewishveg.com/schwartz/hlydytu.html

     











































































































    Confucius
    (2011). Retrieved from
    http://religion.answers.wikia.com/wiki/What_does_Confucianism_say_about_stewardship_and_the_environment    

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