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The Energy Crisis
The Energy Crisis
One of the largest problems looming in America’s future is the energy situation. We currently rely on fossil fuels for 85 percent of our energy which will inevitably be depleted. The effects of our reliance on this fuel has caused devastating but reparable damage to the environment and has made us dependent on unreliable foreign sources for oil. An alternative to fossil fuel in the form is vital for the security of American welfare in the future.
There are no large supplies of oil in the US which makes it so that we must rely on the unstable Middle East which holds conflicting ideology with our own. The fact that the Middle East has all of the oil and that we need more oil than any other country has made the world skeptical to our reasons for invading Iraq and other middle eastern countries. We have been forced by our reliance on fossil fuel to become militarily active in these very unstable regions. Our military involvement may be a reason for the anger that many in the region have against us and could be a reason for the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and could cause more in the future. The country's 103 working nuclear power plants are potential targets for attacks that could release lethal levels of radiation and many of our oil pipelines are located in remote areas vulnerable to sabotage.
Another effect of our reliance on fossil fuels has been its detrimental impact on the environment. The burning of fossil fuels in power plants creates greenhouse gases like CO2 and methane which have been cited in the cause of global warming. The increasing temperature has had the biggest impact on arctic wildlife which has not been able to adapt to the quickly rising temperatures. It could also mean problems for humans as well though, the warmer climates in northern countries could bring disease carrying insects north, the warming oceans could breed larger and more frequent hurricanes, melting polar ice caps could raise the sea level and release large amounts of fresh water into the gulf current could create irregularities and potentially bring a cooling to western Europe and North America.
One possible short term solution, proposed by the Bush administration, to lessen our dependence on foreign oil is to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Advocates for the plan say that with new regulation on oil transportation and drilling the benefits in obtaining oil in America would far outweigh harmful environmental impacts. This solution would only provide partial relief for our reliance on foreign oil though and would not serve as a long term solution. Advocates for the bill also do not take the environmental impact of burning fossil fuels seriously.
Another possible solution to our energy problem is to invest more money into Nuclear Energy plants. Advocates say nuclear power is the only currently large-scale energy source that does not contribute to global climate change. They say it is the perfect solution for addressing the nation's converging challenges of rising energy demand, high fossil-fuel prices, unreliable foreign energy suppliers and concerns about air pollution and climate change . Opponents say that nuclear power plants are dangerous and susceptible to terrorist attacks which could cause widespread contamination, and that nuclear fuel could be stolen and used for weapons. With more government research on reducing the costs of building and managing the power plants, reducing the risk of nuclear accidents, and effectively managing nuclear waste, nuclear energy could be a very viable energy option for our future. However, it could be risky to rely solely on such an unstable energy source.
A third option is to look toward more alternative, less explored energy sources, hydropower, solar energy, wind turbines, geothermal energy, and bio fuels, to propel America into the future. During the late part of the 20th century, with our abundant and reliable oil and coal supplies, these source were being scoffed at by politicians and citizens alike as to expensive and unnecessary, but with rising oil prices, new environmental awareness, and improved technology making the energy sources more affordable, these energy supplies are being taken more seriously. Oil still is cheaper than many of these fuel sources but government subsidies towards research and building could push many corporations to use more of these fuel sources. The environmental benefits of many of these fuel sources can also not be overlooked. Almost all of these sources, with the exception of bio fuels, create no greenhouse emissions, and even bio fuels produce far fewer detrimental waste products compared with oil, coal, or natural gas. This options seems inevitable as prices for fossil fuels rise and the technology for these new energy sources gets better.
The best solution for our energy crisis will be a combination of the different possibilities. Drilling for oil in the ANWR would not be majorly beneficial for our economy and would only provide for short term relief but it would help get us out of the Middle East. There are not many risks involved so we should take advantage of national oil supplies rather than foreign while we make the switch to Nuclear and Alternative Energy. We will be using the oil anyway and it will be equally detrimental to the environment no matter where it comes from so we may as well drill in Alaska rather than take military action, costing us billions of dollars and American lives, to procure oil from the Middle East.
Nuclear Energy security has greatly improved over the past 20 years and with the help of the government it could become even better. Nuclear accidents and ineffective waste management will be a thing of the past as America pushes into the future. The risk of having terrorist attacks on these plants will reduce as we create more of them because our involvement in the Middle East will also decrease. The danger of terrorist attack is always present and we cannot be scared, as a nation, into economic turmoil because of it.
The government should also subsidies the blossoming alternative fuel sources which are very environmentally friendly and are becoming cheaper all the time. One possible change that the government could make is subsidizing switch grass rather than corn because it is much more efficient in creating ethanol. The government has been controlled by the corn industry rather than doing what is most effective for the economy as a whole.
Another thing that the government needs to do to wean Americans off of oil is to subsidies electric and hydrogen powered car production. Electric cars are much more efficient than cars running on gasoline or bio fuels because they produce much less heat which means much less wasted energy. They could be the perfect transfer from gasoline because the cars can be charged by wind, solar, hydro-electric, and nuclear energy sources which are much less harmful to the environment. The performance of the electric cars is not quite on par with the liquid fuels but technology is improving rapidly especially as the demand for the cars increases . Hydrogen cars are higher performing vehicles and their only emission is water but many say that they are too dangerous. They would act in the same way as Electric cars in that they would be a perfect transfer of energy from alternative fuel sources to a transportable fuel. The hydrogen does take energy to procure but this energy could come from sources other than oil.
The future of America is in our governments hands and it is up to them to get Americans off of fossil fuels. Americans should be optimistic about our energy future because the environment will be treated much better and there are many new and exciting that will not even require Americans to drastically change their lifestyles.
Revised Annotated Bibliography (I have more sources now)
Topic: energy situation in the US.
"anwr.org - It’s time to support ANWR drilling." Arctic Power - Arctic National Wildlife Refuge - Home. 14 May 2009.
The article provided me with information on drilling in the ANWR. It is the official website of the ANWR so I assume it is reputable.
Bettelheim, A. (2006, September 29). Biofuels boom. CQ Researcher, 16, 793-816. Retrieved April 2, 2009, from CQ Researcher Online, http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre2006092909.
The article is about the use of bio fuels that the government is promoting in order to decrease reliance on foreign oil and to have a constant renewable source of energy. The article explains that while corn is most widely used to produce ethanol, switch grass could be the alternative of the future because fuel can be made from it more efficiently. The current corn subsidies are a result of large corporations and farming organizations rather than thought out research by the Bush administration. Other advantages of biofuels are that they have less environmentally harmful emissions.
Cooper, M. H. (2005, February 25). Alternative fuels. CQ Researcher, 15, 173-196. Retrieved April 2, 2009, from CQ Researcher Online, http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre2005022509.
The focus of the article is on hydrogen fuel and how it can be used to replace gasoline in the future. The hydrogen essentially serves as a “battery” of sorts because while it has zero harmful emissions, it takes energy to procure the hydrogen, so while the hydrogen itself produces no CO2 the process currently produces approximately the same amount to procure the hydrogen as the same amount in gasoline. The process is becoming more efficient by the year and as renewable un-harmful energy is produced, hydrogen could be procured with no emmisions through out the whole process. This is why it could serve as a battery to transfer energy from new sources into a transportable form.
Cooper, M. H. (2002, February 1). Energy security. CQ Researcher, 12, 73-96. Retrieved April 2, 2009, from CQ Researcher Online, http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre2002020100.
The focus of the article is on how harmful relying on foreign and fossil sources of fuel is to us. Our reliance causes us to be militarily active in an unstable region of the globe, nuclear energy plants could become radioactive targets, and oil and gas pipelines are often in remote areas which could easily be sabotaged. The article cites that while possibly harmful for the environment, drilling pipelines in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge could alleviate some of the stresses of relying on foreign oil. I will point out in my paper how we can’t take the environmental problems lightly.
Cooper, M. H. (1997, November 7). Renewable energy. CQ Researcher, 7, 961-984. Retrieved April 2, 2009, from CQ Researcher Online, http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre1997110700.
The article does not encourage the use of renewable fuel and instead begs the question of whether the industry should be subsidized and regulated at all. Coal and Oil prices were low at the time the article was written though so more recent information could discourage this deregulation and encourage subsidizing the blossoming alternative fuel industry. Those who encourage the deregulation of the industry also do not consider the environmental impact of the Coal and Oil industries.
"Department of Energy - Fossil Fuels." Department of Energy - Homepage. 14 May 2009
The article provided me good information on America’s current use of fossil fuels. The Department of Energy webpage is most definitely a valid source
Griffin, R. D. (1992, July 10). Alternative energy. CQ Researcher, 2, 573-596. Retrieved April 2, 2009, from CQ Researcher Online, http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre1992071000.
The article points out that with alternative renewable fuels becoming more affordable, and corporations becoming more environmentally concerned, the alternative fuels could start to really come into use; especially if the government is willing to subsidies and do research in the blooming industries. The article says that renewable fuel prices could even become competitive with fossil fuels as they become harder to obtain. Types of alternative fuel include: hydropower, solar energy, wind turbines, and geothermal energy.
Masci, D. (2000, January 21). Auto industry's future. CQ Researcher, 10, 17-40. Retrieved April 2, 2009, from CQ Researcher Online, http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre2000012100.
The article cites how as oil and gas prices rise, American car manufacturers will have to start to produce more fuel efficient cars. Foreign car sales have been increasing so the American producers will have to change to keep up. Designing cars that use alternative fuel will also become more important because the market his rapidly expanding as oil prices soar and Americans become more environmentally conscious.
Neurohr, John, and Andrea Purse. "The Top 100 Effects of Global Warming." Center for American Progress. 14 May 2009
This was sort of a funny article but it brought up good points about how harmful global warming could be to us. It is not a commercial website so it must be somewhat valid.
Weeks, J. (2006, March 10). Nuclear energy. CQ Researcher, 16, 217-240. Retrieved April 2, 2009, from CQ Researcher Online, http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre2006031000.
Nuclear power is the only alternative to oil that could readily be produced on a large scale. Nuclear is preferable to oil in that it gives off no green house emissions like CO2. The plants are however unstable because nuclear waste is very damaging to the environment. Terrorists could target nuclear fuel plants and create disasters. Research could be funded to make the plants safer and more secure, less susceptible to nuclear leeks and potentially harmful emissions. The article concludes that while nuclear energy is somewhat dangerous, it could be a very good source for non-greenhouse gas emitting energy in the future.
Worsnop, R. L. (1993, July 9). Electric cars. CQ Researcher, 3, 577-600. Retrieved April 2, 2009, from CQ Researcher Online, http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre1993070900.
Electric cars are much more efficient than cars running on gasoline or bio fuels because they produce much less heat which means much less wasted energy. Electric cars could be the perfect transfer from gasoline because the cars can be charged by wind, solar, hydro-electric, and nuclear power which should be much less harmful to the environment. The performance of the electric cars is not quite on par with the liquid fuels but technology is improving rapidly especially as the demand for the cars increases.