Energy Sustainability In The United States

1923 words - 8 pages

Energy Sustainability in the United States
When a switch is flipped, or a power button depressed, results are expected. Many daily activities rely on electricity. Without energy, drastic changes to human life would have to be hastily made. The electricity that is wired to our houses is taken for granted and the majority of discussions about conserving energy are stemmed from the arrival of the electric bill. People need an increased desire to change the environment to fuel changes in energy sources. Educating ourselves about energy and alternatives is the beginning step to a safer, cleaner, healthier world.
There are several problems surrounding the use of energy and the production of ...view middle of the document...

Nuclear power creates several problems for our environment. Though it is a very efficient way to produce energy, all materials used in production of nuclear energy are then contaminated with radiation. The best solution for decontamination is containment; however this process may take many thousands of years and constant monitoring to prevent leaks. The waste produced at nuclear power plants is considered high-level radioactive waste. “High-level radioactive wastes are among the most dangerous human-made hazardous wastes (Wiley, 2010).” Though there are constant improvements being made for nuclear power, perhaps the safest improvement would be to eliminate these hazardous wastes from being produced and stop relying on this type of power.
While there are obvious problems related to the production of energy and the waste produced, a major concern is the effects on the environment as we continue to harvest these non-renewable resources. Mining for coal and drilling for oil create many disturbances to the natural environment. In the area surrounding harvest sites, roads must be built to allow machinery access. Also utilities are pumped, piped, and wired into the buildings which are set up onsite. There are other “invisible” changes to the environment as well. Some of these include interruptions of water flow, and increased waste material that drains into the surrounding environment. Often oil is drilled in off-shore areas. Even at the most efficient drilling sites, leaks are often unavoidable. This creates one of the largest environmental upsets; oil spills are serious threats to animals, fish, birds, people, wetlands, and the ocean. A spill can have lasting effects on the environment for several dozen years, depending on the severity. Drilling and mining are dangerous ways to obtain fossil fuels, but will continue unless a viable alternative is available.
Acknowledging the problems associated with current energy production methods is the first step to improving energy for the future. Nature has many wonderful things to offer humans, and one of the items available is free energy. Current sustainability strategies in the United States are severely underdeveloped. Although there are several ‘bills and acts’ in proposal stages, they are not currently providing actions to support cleaner air and sustainable energy which are demanded by our existing situation. The plans contained in these bills and acts in progress are thorough and provide promise of sustainability. One current plan is the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES). The problem with ACES is that “it lacks detailed planning around how sustainability will be achieved (Lecklider, 2010)”. However it is still many years before these plans are acted upon and constant changes in conditions mean constant changes to the plans. The time necessary for the government to work out the problems in the current plans will mean that the plans’ effectiveness will suffer. The time to begin is...

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