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Environmental Hero

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Tsunamis are killing unprecedented numbers of people… Coastal cities are sinking from increasing water levels… Godzilla may rise from the deep and wreak havoc on humankind… And such are just some of the outcomes that air pollution may bring…

Hold it!

I know-we’ve heard this all a million times! But as dreary as the conversation may be, it is nonetheless a conversation worth having. The harsh reality is that air pollution is a great problem, and the way in which we can solve it is through dramatic change in the use of fossil fuels-the most significant cause of air pollution. After considering that “nearly 40 percent of the world’s nitrous oxide emissions come from the burning of fossil fuels” (“Renewable Energy is Beneficial…”), it is clear that we need to rethink our current use of fossil fuels.

Humans pollute the air by releasing baffling amounts of harmful chemicals into our atmosphere. One such chemical is nitrous oxide: “Today, human activities release about 433,000 metric tons of nitrous oxide into the atmosphere each year” (“Renewable Energy is Beneficial…”). The source of these quantities is, for the most part, automobiles and factories. In addition to nitrous oxide, we pollute the air with carbon dioxide, “another harmful gas released into the atmosphere” (“Renewable Energy is Beneficial…”). Carbon dioxide is naturally absorbed by plants, but deforestation limits the amount of carbon dioxide Earth’s carbon cycle can naturally recuperate. As we can see, it stands that air pollution is complicated by some of the further environmental issues around it.

To wrap our heads around the importance of the matter, let’s look at the consequences of air pollution. Air pollution’s effects can be devastating: “Some scientists believe an increase in the temperature of the planet, brought on by the greenhouse effect, will lead to more weather-related natural disasters such as tornadoes, floods, droughts, and hurricanes” (Ausubel…). Such natural disasters kill millions every year and often level whole cities. The planet Earth operates on a delicate system of natural balance, and “scientists believe warming the atmosphere by even a few degrees could cause enormous changes to the environment” (Ausubel…). Humans are the only animals creating these effects on this scale and likewise are the only animals capable of stopping it. Furthermore, “scientists also predict a significant rise in sea level, which will reduce land size” (Ausubel…). Most major population centers are built along coastlines and are thus most susceptible to the fury of the seas. These places will, and do, feel the effects of violent weather and gradually changing shorelines most dramatically.

Despite all the doom and gloom, air pollution is not an unsolvable problem. In fact, the most convenient solution is a simple one: widespread adoption of renewable energy. Renewable energy’s practicality comes in the fact that it “does not deplete natural resources and creates little to no pollution when generated” (“Renewable Energy is Beneficial…”). This reduces air pollution because harmful gasses are not emitted into the atmosphere.

Renewable energy is a wonderful solution because it simultaneously takes care of the problem and allows humans to continue to live with the full benefits of the energy use we have become accustomed to. Additionally, “renewable energy does not run out” (“Renewable Energy is Beneficial…”), posing it as a very practical alternative to fossil fuels, which are “quickly being used up” (“Renewable Energy is Beneficial…”). People will continue to need energy after the world’s supply of fossil fuels have been depleted, and renewable energy will nicely answer that problem.

Some renewable energy technologies are not without their detractors. Energy sources like hydroelectricity, wind turbines, and solar power can be criticized because “they would use up vast amounts of land, and cause serious environmental damage” (“Renewable Energy is Not…”). These allegations can contain truth, but renewable sources of energy remain the best answer we have to the destructive consequences of air pollution. It is also argued that renewable energy is ineffective because it is not seeing widespread adoption. This may be true at the moment, but as the situation becomes increasingly dire the consequences become all the more disastrous and the rewards of adoption all the more great.

In a word: do what you can to protect the world you live in. Save the world from air pollution by switching to renewable energy. Do what you can in the day-to-day, like cutting back on waste, or riding a bike. Just consider that “one bike rider will save thousands of gallons of gas each year from being polluted in the air” (Westenskow…). And for what it’s worth, there are those that think “renewable energy is cool” (Warner…).

Become an environmental hero. As the great Mark Twain once wrote, “do the right thing: it will gratify some, and astonish the rest.”

Works Cited

Ausubel, Jesse H. “Renewable Energy Is Not Beneficial for the Environment.”_Renewable Energy_. Ed. Jacqueline Langwith. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2009. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from “Renewable and Nuclear Heresies.” _International Journal of Nuclear Governance, Economy and Ecology_ 1.3 (2007): 229-235. _Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context_. Web. 6 June 2012.

“Renewable Energy Is Beneficial for the Environment.” _Renewable Energy_. Ed. Jacqueline Langwith. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2009. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from “Chapter 1: The Development of Energy.” _Science Clarified_. 2007. _Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context_. Web. 6 June 2012.

Warner, Robin F. “Environmental Impacts of Hydroelectric Power and Other Anthropogenic Developments on the Hydromorphology and Ecology of the Durance Channel and the Etang De Berre, Southeast France.” _Journal of environmental management_ 104 (2012): 35. _ProQuest Research Library._ Web. 6 June 2012.

Westenskow, Rosalie. “Implementation and Environmental Concerns Surround the National Renewable Fuel Standard.” _Renewable Energy_. Ed. Jacqueline Langwith. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2009. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from “Analysis: New RFS Law Already Under Fire.” _UPI.com_. 2008. _Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context_. Web. 6 June 2012.

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