The Energy Crisis

June 1, 2010
By Conor Strauss BRONZE, Park Ridge, Illinois
Conor Strauss BRONZE, Park Ridge, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

An Intro to the Energy Crisis: The energy crisis is a growing problem for everyone in the world. It affects and will continue to affect all people, and it is a major issue. This problem has persisted throughout the ages and into the twenty first century. The energy crisis can be defined as the profound, negative effects that the energy industry has placed upon the global society. The energy crisis affects everyone on the planet through all layers of society, and it will continue to affect people into the near future.
Early Energy: The energy crisis began around 300 years ago, in early eighteenth century Europe. At this time, Europe was slowly beginning to put down its roots of industrialization (Nakaya, 2). Wood burning was the primary fuel source at this time, as lumber was plentiful. However, as the population grew, it became apparent that new technological advances were needed. Coal began to replace wood as the primary fuel source. As factories began to emerge throughout the nineteenth century, society became more and more dependent on energy. In the mid eighteen hundreds, a new source of fuel appeared (Nakaya, 2). The Oil Industry: Originally, oil was impractical to use as a fuel source. It was difficult to drill and extract in large quantities. However, as time went on, new technology allowed for productive oil drilling, and oil rapidly replaced coal as the top energy source (Kruger, 2). As oil became the dominant fuel source, more and more of it needed to be extracted for use (Nakaya, 3). The oil industry was born and they set about sucking all of this black gold out of the ground as they could. At the time, oil was plentiful, relatively easy to extract, and easy to sell, making it a wealthy industry as well. Oil became the primary fuel source of almost all transportation methods, especially automobiles. Oil powered nations’ militaries, airplanes, and trains. The world became dependant on this energy source, and more oil based inventions appeared. The Reality of the Energy Crisis: One of the worst parts of the energy crisis is the fact that most people do not truly understand what it is. The first thing that pops into most people’s minds is “We’re running out of oil!” The energy crisis is not an energy shortage. In fact, the world is still very much full of oil. Andrea Nakaya of Greenhaven Press says “In 2003, reserves totaled 1.15 trillion barrels, enough to last 41 years,” That means that we can still operate on regular old oil without changing anything for another 36 years. No, it’s not the supply that’s the problem. It’s the demand. Our current infrastructure is not producing enough energy to support our growing population and our rising use of energy to power our daily lives.
Energy and You: Right now, you’re probably thinking “It doesn’t really matter. I drive a hybrid and live in an energy efficient house. I’ll be just fine.” Unfortunately, you’re wrong. The energy crisis affects everyone, not just those who cause it to be a crisis. For example, a man works at an auto factory. He depends on his work in order to get paid. The factory relies on selling their cars in order to stay open. However, when less people buy cars because of how much gas costs, the factory may need to lay off their workers. Now they make fewer cars, but they’re more expensive. Another person who needs to buy a car can’t because he doesn’t have enough money, and now he can’t get to work. This chain goes on and on until it seeps through every layer of society. Everyone is affected by the energy crisis (Kruger, 2).
So what next?: Well, the future seems uncertain. Many different opportunities have presented themselves and there are many options of what to do next. However, the governments and energy producers of the world have not been definitive in their choice yet. It seems as if the energy crisis will persist on unless something is done to stop it, and that something is done soon. While not in imminent danger of disappearing, the world’s oil reserves are being used up. They will be gone one day, and right now, society will not be able to cope with that. Serious change needs to occur. However, all hope is not lost. There are solutions to this crisis, and they mainly revolve around other energy sources or better ways of utilizing what we currently have.
Nuclear Energy: There are solutions to the energy crisis. One of the best ones seems to be nuclear power. It is the best and most viable option to date. It is clean, produces an enormous amount of energy, and new advances are made into this technology frequently. Currently n the world, there are 434 nuclear power plants in the world. 53 more are currently under construction, and another 134 are planned to be built soon (Kruger, 2). The world receives almost 15 percent of all its energy from nuclear power plants. This percentage will rise significantly if more plants are built. With these new plants, there will be an enormous surge forward into energy production. Many claim that nuclear power is a very clean source of energy. However, many other claim otherwise, stating that the nuclear waste produced by nuclear power plants are dangerous to store and almost impossible to get rid of (Langwith, 3). While these claims may conflict, both should be taken into account. Alternative Energies: Now comes the question of other energy sources. There are lots of them out there, such as wind power and solar power. However, they might not exactly be the Godsends you were expecting. According to Jeffery D. Kooistra, the co-author of “The Alternate View”, “renewable energies such as solar and wind energy as not the answer to the world’s energy needs.” Experts have verified this. You would need a colossal amount of space to build enough solar panels in order to produce the same amount of energy that an average coal plant produces. “we need 120 square miles of solar collector to equal one typical fossil-fuel power plant, a square that is eleven miles on a side (Kruger, 3).” There is a place in the world for solar power, but not as a mainstream producer of the world’s energy. Wind power holds the same story. You need large square miles of windmill riddled fields to produce a decent amount of energy. The fact is, these alternative energies just don’t make enough power for the world (Moore, 2). Many eco-friendly organizations are crazy about these alternates because of how green they are. Now, while the environment is important, priorities need to be set in order. Even fossil-fuel plants are a better source of energy, because it is more important to keep society running (Nakaya, 2). Besides, there are other methods, such as nuclear energy, that are still clean and that produce enough energy for everyone. Questions Anyone?: Q: So wait, we’re not really running out of oil? A: Well, the world is running out. It takes longer for the world to produce oil than it takes for us to extract it, so we will eventually run out. However, that is not going to occur nearly as soon as you may think. There are at least 39 years left of oil, and some experts claim that there is more than 54 years left.
Q: I’ll be fine. I have a hybrid and I’ll start turning off the lights more often. A: Unfortunately, that will not solve the problem. Every aspect of society is touched by the energy crisis, and even if you are not affected, maybe your company will be, or your company’s supplier. Maybe a totally unrelated business shuts down and the stock market suffers.
Q: Woah! That sounds awful. All hope is lost! A: Now hold on a minute! There are many ways that this crisis can be solved. New fuel sources such as nuclear fuel or fuel cells are being implemented more frequently, and more energy is available.
Works Cited:

Works Cited
Kruger, Lisa. “Nuclear Power Is a Viable Solution to the Energy Crisis.” At Issue: Is the World Experiencing an Energy Crisis? Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2010. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. 4-15-10 Langwith, Jaqueline. “Nuclear Power Is Not Renewable.” Opposing Viewpoints: Renewable Energy. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2009. Opposing Viewpoints. 4-15-10. Nakaya, Andrea. “The United States Does Not Face an Energy Crisis.” Opposing Viewpoints: Oil. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2006. Opposing Viewpoints. 4-15-10. Moore, Patrick. “Nuclear Power Is a Safe Alternative to Fossil Fuels.” Opposing Viewpoints: Energy Alternatives. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2006. Opposing Viewpoints. 4-15-10. Vallario, Joseph. “There’s an Energy Crisis.” The Washington Post. September 21, 2008. Print Edition: Editorials. 4- 18-10.

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