Essay: Proposal: Alternative Energy Sources for American Residents

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  • Subject area(s): Environmental studies essays
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  • Published on: November 15, 2015
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  • Proposal: Alternative Energy Sources for American Residents
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Executive summary
The United States of America is facing a growing problem with regards to energy dependence. The current lifestyle of most American residents is highly based on the consumption of major fossil fuels such as oil and coal. However, very few realize that there is only a limited amount of these natural resources to sustain the world population.
If no significant action is taken within the near future, along with depleting the finite supply of natural resources, we would be putting the American economy as well as our own lives at risk. In order to prevent such a situation, this proposal focuses on the need for transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. By creating a long-term plan necessary to make this transition, the United States of America, along with other well-developed countries, can serve as an example for developing countries to follow, and effectively improve upon their energy issues. ‘
The region
The United States of America is the third-largest country by size and by population. Surrounded by both the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean, and positioned between Canada and Mexico, it consists of 50 states and the District of Columbia. As per the 2014 Census, the total population of the United States of America is approximately 318.9 million [5].
The problem
The United States of America is lacking in the usage of renewable energy sources. Despite being one of the world’s leading and most-technologically advanced nations, 75.3% of the country’s total electricity production is from fossil fuels. The consumption of refined petroleum products amounts to 18.84 million barrels per day. This results in about 5.491 billion megatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from the consumption of energy [5]. These statistics clearly show that the American society is marked by an unreliable supply of energy fuels, vulnerable infrastructure, and environmental degradation [2].
Energy plays a key role in the transportation and electricity generation sectors of America. This includes everything from people keeping their homes warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and lit at night, to powering cars and airplanes. However, this power comes from our ability to exploit fossil fuel energy sources. The growing population of the nation has only added to the demands on energy supply over the years [1].
Thus, the only way that renewable energy sources can be successfully implemented throughout the nation is by introducing sources of energy that are affordable, accessible, and sustainable, and convincing the government, business leaders, and residents that the usage of energy alternatives are worthwhile and beneficial [1]. The ultimate goal is to be able to influence people to make the right decisions about their energy usage in their daily activities, in their homes, and at their workplaces [3].
Steps towards energy independence
There are several steps that could be taken in order to shift our reliance on fossil fuels to a cleaner source of energy, such as:
Solar Energy: One approach to implementing solar energy is the use of direct-gap semiconductors such as cadmium telluride and copper-indium-gallium-selenide, which only require a thin film (less than one micrometer) in order to absorb solar radiation. These thin-film solar cells can be applied on light and low-cost surfaces. This technology reduces the overall cost and weight, which is particularly beneficial during the transportation and installation of these solar cells [1].
Wind Technology: Wind technology is another possible alternative to fossil fuels because it can prove to be much more cost-effective through improvements in the turbines, blades, and gearboxes, and an increase in the height of wind towers [1].
Nuclear Power: If we continue to generate electricity from fossil fuels, it can significantly increase the amounts of carbon dioxide emissions. However, nuclear power can play an important role in our attempts to decarbonize the production of electricity. While there is a question of safety in the construction of nuclear power plants, new reactors are being designed to safely cool down the heat dispersed by the nuclear decay for three days without having any access to electrical power or water source outside the nuclear plant [1].
Apart from above technological solutions, it is essential to create awareness among citizens about the goal of energy independence. One way of approaching the society would be to provide education about measures that would improve energy efficiency, and encourage the use of renewable energy resources as a whole. The key would be to address the financial aspects of using alternative energy since consumers are always looking for new ways to save money.
A perfect example of the implementation of energy alternatives is California, which is also referred to as ‘the environmentally obsessed Golden state’ [4]. Particularly, companies are leaning more towards cleaner technologies such as fuel cells, which generate electricity through a reaction between oxygen and hydrogen, and solar cells, which convert sunlight into electricity by capturing photon energy [4]. For instance, the city of San Francisco sold bonds to help install solar cells in the Moscone Convention Center [4]. Making such initiatives can actually serve as an investment for the city in terms of energy savings.
Why energy alternatives are important
Energy alternatives are essential for the American society because adopting renewable energy sources will save consumers’ money, reduce carbon dioxide emissions to avoid the drastic effects of climate change, and finally, reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil. Energy independence can only be achieved by emphasizing the importance of using energy more efficiently, and ensuring that the information regarding energy alternatives are made available to the general public, allowing them to make informed decisions.
Works cited
1. Chu, Steven, and Arun Majumdar. “Opportunities And Challenges For A Sustainable Energy Future.” Nature 488.7411 (2012): 294-303. Academic Search Premier. Web. 3 Mar. 2015.
In this scholarly journal article, Chu and Majumdar address a few examples of alternatives for achieving a sustainable energy future, including solar and water-based energy, and the engineering of microbes to produce biofuels. This is a reliable source because the authors present specific evidence to reinforce their ideas such as a statistical review of the world’s energy, past trends in energy consumption, energy costs, etc. My topic is about how we can reduce the consumption of fossil fuels by switching to renewable energy sources. This article is relevant to my topic because it points out how petroleum is the main source of energy in the current transportation infrastructure, and also offers solutions for reducing fuel consumption such as internal combustion engines, battery-based electrification, fuel cell-based electrification, natural gas, and alternative liquid-transportation fuels.
2. Florini, Ann, and Benjamin K. Sovacool. “Bridging The Gaps In Global Energy Governance.” Global Governance 17.1 (2011): 57-74. Academic Search Premier. Web. 3 Mar. 2015.
In this scholarly journal article, Florini and Sovacool describe how the current society is subject to an unreliable supply of energy fuels, vulnerable infrastructure, and environmental degradation. Ann Florini is internationally recognized as an authority on new approaches to global governance, while Benjamin K. Sovacool is a researcher with interest in studying the barriers to alternative sources of energy supply, making them qualified to write on the topic of improving energy security on a global level. This article is relevant to my topic of achieving energy independence because it incorporates several issues that shape up energy policies, including competition for energy resources, the use of nuclear energy, terrorism and cross-border threats, and climate change.
3. Sen, S., G. Khazanov, and Y. Kishimoto. “Environment, Renewable Energy And Reduced Carbon Emissions.” Radiation Effects & Defects In Solids: Incorporating Plasma Techniques & Plasma Phenomena 166.10 (2011): 834-842. Academic Search Premier. Web. 3 Mar. 2015.
In this scholarly journal article, Sen, Khazanov, and Kishimoto suggest that the use of advanced technology for the transportation and building sectors could provide numerous opportunities for achieving greater energy efficiency. This is a reliable source because not only do they present technologies to increase energy security and reduce carbon emissions, but they also take into account any economical, cultural, or psychological factors that might influence energy usage among the general public. This article is relevant to my topic of achieving energy independence because despite the various alternatives to fossil fuels that might exist, the ultimate goal is to be able to convince corporate business leaders, government officials, and citizens to make the right judgments about their energy usage in their daily activities, in their homes, and at their workplaces.
Other works referenced
4. Stone, Brad, and Elisa Williams. “Alternative Energy.” Newsweek 142.20 (2003): E22-E25. Academic Search Premier. Web. 1 Apr. 2015.
In this news article, Stone and Williams discuss why capitalists in California are beginning to think that alternative energy sources will be responsible for the next technology boom in the nation. This is a reliable source because the author mentions the current measures that are being taken in California with the goal of achieving energy independence, including new projects and solutions. However, there are possibilities that this article might be biased considering that this was an article from Newsweek, and authors would typically write about what the audience wants to hear or something that would capture public attention. This article is relevant because my topic is mainly about introducing alternative energy sources for American residents, I would use this source in the section where I offer solutions to the social issue of energy dependence, and especially use the state of California with its clean-energy industry as a model for others to follow.
5. “The World Factbook.” Central Intelligence Agency. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Mar. 2015. <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/us.html>.
This website, titled ‘The World Factbook,’ provides a variety of information about the United States of America, including the geography, people and society, government, economy, energy, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues. This is a reliable source because this is a government website, maintained by the Central Intelligence Agency. The information found in this website is useful for my proposal because it provide statistics regarding population size, electricity consumption, oil consumption, and carbon dioxide emissions from the consumption of energy.

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