Alternative Energy This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


      Theamount of oil produced in the United States has been steadily decreasing duringthe last 30 years. Currently, more than 50 percent of our oil is imported. Ouroil import bill for the year 2000 was a whopping $119.3 billion, way up from $68billion in 1999 (http://www.eia.doe.gov).

Perhaps worst of all, oil is afossil fuel, and the energy we harness from fossil fuels can never be reused. Inaddition, it has been proven that burning these resources significantly damagesthe environment. For example, harmful gases are produced that spread everywhere,covering the earth in a gaseous blanket. This layer traps heat irradiated fromthe earth's surface by the light from the sun. This trapping of heat is referredto as the greenhouse effect and is responsible for global warming.

Becauseof all these adverse effects, we should begin using an alternative, moreefficient and more environmentally safe method of producing energy. There aremany options, and some can actually be maintained at home, including bioenergy,solar power, hydropower, geothermal, wind energy, ocean power and hydrogenenergy. All have proven to be more efficient and less dangerous sources ofenergy. These new methods could help prevent the burning of billions of barrelsof oil each year. Bioenergy uses plant material to create energy. It can beburned or allowed to decompose to produce gases that can be used to makeenergy.

Another ingenious method of producing energy is hydropower -energy derived from water. This could supply power to 30 million households(equal to 500 million barrels of oil). This energy is mainly drawn from rivers ordams that force turbines to spin, producing efficient and environmentally safeenergy. The ocean can be harnessed in a similar manner by using the waves toproduce massive amounts of energy (depending on the size of the powerplant).

Other methods of producing power include wind energy, which useswind to turn turbines, and geothermal energy, which uses the heat from the earth.

The energy sources with the most promise, however, are solar and hydrogenpower. The sun sends roughly 1,000 kilowatts of energy per square meter of thisplanet, enough to fuel all the energy needs of the earth. Solar panels arealready being used to capture a small percentage of this energy but new methodsare being developed.

Research is also being done on the ultra-safepossibility of using hydrogen to produce energy. This holds much potential sincehydrogen can be drawn from water and is the third most abundant element on theplanet. Researchers say hydrogen may well be used to power cars in the nearfuture.

All these relatively new and improved methods of harnessing energyare obviously better than burning a limited, harmful resource that ruins theenvironment. It seems to me that if we make the reasonable decision to save thiswonderful planet, then we have no excuse, short of our own ignorance.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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