Carbon dioxide emissions are the largest contributors to human-induced global warming. In the past few years, these emissions were reportedly stabilizing. However, carbon emission rose by 1.6 percent in 2017 and projected to grow 2.7 percent more in 2018, according to the Global Carbon Project.
The negative effects of too much carbon dioxide emission are well known: the gas makes up 82 percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions, which trap heat in the atmosphere. Unfortunately, human practices that are mostly avoidable drive carbon dioxide emissions further.
What Causes Carbon Dioxide Pollution?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, human activities have been responsible for most of the increase in greenhouse gas emissions over the last 150 years. In the U.S., burning fossil fuels is the biggest culprit for these emissions, which cause the acceleration of climate change.
Power plants burn fossil fuels for transportation, electricity, and industrial operations. All these three combined make up 79 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. While transportation, electricity, and industry have all become essential to life as we know it, there are alternative ways to continue these operations that do not emit as much carbon dioxide as burning fossil fuels.
With renewable energy, people around the world can minimize greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change.
The Wonders of Renewable Energy Sources
In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) conducted a comprehensive study showing that by 2050, the country can generate most of its energy from renewable sources.
The results of the Renewable Electricity Futures Study revealed that, with the technology available today, an “80 percent renewables future is feasible.” This means that the 80 percent renewables scenario can meet the demand for electricity across the U.S. every hour of every day throughout the year. It also shows that with this kind of future, carbon emission from the power sector can be reduced by up to 80 percent.
Among the technologies that the study mentioned are wind power, solar power, and hydropower. They also cited the use of solar photovoltaic power, biopower, and geothermal energy.
Solar power and wind energy generated from wind farms like Chevelon Butte can provide about half of all the electricity needed in the U.S., while the remaining 30 percent can be generated by other renewable sources. What this study shows is that instead of being limited by a few specific energy sources, renewables provide the country with multiple choices.
How Renewable Energy Sources Help Mitigate Climate Change
All energy sources have some kind of impact on the environment, but the burning of fossil fuels does substantially more harm than renewable energy sources. What’s more, what little impact renewable energy has on the environment is far outweighed by its benefits.
Apart from the sources being abundant and virtually inexhaustible, renewable energy produces no toxic pollution or greenhouse emissions. Most renewable sources also don’t require water to produce power, unlike fossil fuel-burning power plants. This lifts the strain on water resources by up to 50 percent.
All these considerations show that with the right policies, support, and research, it’s possible to enjoy the energy-dependent things you do today without compromising the health of the planet.