Is There a Viable Alternative to Fossil Fuels?

Eco-warriors are protesting around the globe about the fact that humans continue to rely on fossil fuels such as gas and oil. They say that our use of these fuels is destroying the planet and that we must find alternative sources of energy. Do they have a point? Is enough being done to ensure our children and grandchildren can continue to call Earth their home?

Why Should We Stop Using Fossil Fuels?

The fossil fuels that we use release huge quantities of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide into the atmospherewhich, according to ClientEarth, trap heat and raise the global temperature. The increasing global temperature has already led to melting ice in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, which has caused sea levels around the world to start rising. This is resulting in the loss of biodiversity and a rise in extreme weather phenomenon. Unless humanity dramatically reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, the temperature is likely to continue rising, causing even more death and destruction around the world as it does.

Why Don’t Humans Stop Using Fossil Fuels

Knowing the impact of global warming on animals and humans, it is not hard to see why protestors are crying out for governments to commit to stop using fossil fuels. And you would be forgiven for wondering why we don’t just stop using them right now. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as that.

The fact is that there still does not seem to be any suitable alternative to oil for global needs. Oil extraction is cost-effective, and because it remains readily availablethere is a reluctance to move away from it. This is despite the growing negative impact it appears to be having on the planet.

What Could Replace Oil?

While there is no way that the world could do without oil and gas right now, there is a move towards the research and development of replacement fuel sources.

Harnessing energy from the Sun is something that could become a replacement for fossil fuels. In fact, we could feasibly power the entire Earth’s electricity needs with energy from the sun. This is according to Professor Mehran Moalem, an expert on nuclear materials and nuclear fuel cycle at UC Berkeley.He answered this question on Quora:

Could the world feasibly switch to all-nuclear power generation? If so, would that be a good counter to global warming?

Professor Moalem said that in 2015the world used 17.3 terawatts of continuous power from various sources including coal, oil, nuclear, hydroelectric, and other renewables. He went on to say that an area of 43,000 square miles covered in solar panels could generate more than 17.4 Terawatts of power. He further said that this area makes up just 1.2% of the Great Saharan Desert.

He emphasized his point by saying that the one-time cost of implementing this would be around five trillion dollars, which is just under 5% of global GDP for one year. According to Professor Moalem, there is no other energy source that could compare. He also believes that in twenty to thirty years, solar energy will be the world’s main energy source.

Solar Energy for Homes

Many people are already utilizing a solar energy system in their homes. The experts at Vivint Solar say that solar energy is becoming increasingly popular with homeowners eager to do their bit for the environmentwhile saving money on their energy bills at the same time.

Solar power for your home can reduce your reliance on the grid, and when used smartly it can power your home during the day. Those with battery systems can even draw stored power from their solar panel system at night.

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