Friday, October 5, 2012

Can renewable energy halt global warming and climate change?

Renewable energy is often being mentioned as one of the best solutions to halt global warming and climate change. This is because renewable energy sources such as solar and wind do not create harmful greenhouse gas (mostly carbon dioxide) emissions that contribute to climate change like burning of the fossil fuels does.

Currently dominant fossil fuels (oil, coal and natural gas) when burn create harmful greenhouse gas emissions that cause large quantities of CO2 to go into atmosphere, increasing Earth's greenhouse effect and warming our planet in the process.

Why does world continue to use fossil fuels if they do such a tremendous damage to our environment, and our planet in general?

First of all, our society needs energy because our "normal way of life" cannot function without constant energy supply. Fossil fuel technologies have long history of use and our entire industry was built on them. This has led to a creation of very powerful fossil fuel lobbies that have great influence over politics, and tend to get major political decisions going their way.

On the other hand, renewable energy technologies have just started developing and they are still some time off from reaching the necessary maturity level that would enable them to achieve parity with fossil fuels in terms of costs and efficiency. Many people are still not ready to pay higher energy bills regardless of whether this helps our environment or not, which means that renewable energy must become cheaper prior to replacing fossil fuels as dominant fuels.

Since renewable energy has abundant potential and variety of different sources from which we can harvest clean energy, it is really only a matter of time before renewable energy replaces fossil fuels and becomes main energy source in the world. On the other hand, fossil fuels are finite energy sources meaning that they will eventually become exhausted and therefore cannot guarantee our future energy security.

The only question that remains to be answered is whether climate change will leave us enough time to make transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Judging by the latest scientific reports we seem to be running out of time really fast.

The rapid development of different renewable energy technologies such as solar panels and wind turbines looks to be one of the few remaining options that can really prove the difference in our fight against the climate change. Whether our society will utilize this option in time, however, still remains to be seen.