In the End

This is my last post for the blog, so I think you deserved to see my message in its entirety. By now we all agree that global warming is an issue, yet nothing is being done to stop it. This is what puzzles me, and that is what I have been trying to portray in my posts. 

I believe that the government should take more action and try to inform America more about global warming. Since the government holds power over the country, they can even put laws in place to demand that people take action instead of remaining stagnant. I believe that if the government took action, America would see the error of their ways. Which leads me to my next point.

I believe that the other way for people that care about the earth (which should be most of us) to get the message across is to get the media to give stories about global warming more airtime. People get all of their news from the media, and they report more stories about popular culture and less about issues that are going on in the world. If the media would agree to give global warming more exposure, not only would people be more aware, they realize that this issue doesn’t just affect America. Global warming affects the whole world, and for a country full of people that claim to be caring, that’s not caring at all. America is looked to as a leader by the rest of the world and we need to set an example.

12 Days of Wasting

Before my family moved, there was a house that we would always look at that had a really big Christmas lights display (the house probably had fifty or more decorations in the yard). Ever since I started taking an environmental writing class, I now look at that house differently. When we went to see the house this year I wondered how much more energy that people waste by putting up Christmas lights.

An average house puts out six tera-watts of electricity during December, which is enough to power 500,000 homes in a month. This produces carbon dioxide and releases it into the atmosphere. This point is analyzed by Dr Trasandem in this quote.

 

“I wouldn’t needlessly expose [children] to a lead-based hazard that could have significant lifelong consequences for that child’s cognitive capacity or their attention or other health problems,”

 

I completely agree with the quote above. These lights are going to affect the future generations of America. The problem is that there are alternative Christmas lights that are more energy efficient, but people aren’t deciding to take advantage of this fact.

LED Christmas LightsThe picture above is a picture of LED Christmas lights. LED lights allow electrons to recombine with electron holes, which produce light. This light doesn’t require a plug and emits much less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. LED lights are expensive, however, they can sometimes last 10 years, which far outlasts the lifespan of regular lights.

Although LED lighting is a little more expensive, they are much more energy efficient. I believe that if we take the necessary steps by buying LED or other energy efficient lights, we can still enjoy the holiday season without emitting so much Co2.

WE NEED THE MEDIA!!!

After all the classes I have spent learning about global warming, I started to think about solutions to global warming, just a lot about global warming. I started to wonder, “Is there really a solution to it? Or is all the thought and commotion about it just a bunch of over-reacting?” I really put a lot of thought into this and I believe that there is no solution to it, that we are in control of. I think that we can recycle more or not use as much power, maybe even get other countries to switch to solar power or not use as much gas. But I don’t believe that those actions will make a big enough impact on global warming to solve it.

 

I think people aren’t worrying so much about global warming because of all the other things going on in the world, whether it be new technology, politics, or anything that draws peoples attention. I believe that scientists are trying to use technology to find out solutions to global warming and using politics to view global warming from a different perspective. That may help but certainly not enough considering global warming is getting worse.

 

I just don’t think that we can dig ourselves out of such a big hole that we have already gotten ourselves into. I hope people keep trying to solve global warming and trying their hardest to find solutions, but I just don’t think that we can make a big change. I hope that I’m wrong, because if only climate scientists are worrying about finding a better solution than recycling or turning off lights, then there won’t be a big change. Scientists need to find a way to get the general public’s attention towards global warming. But they have no way to get the public aware of it without the media, which the things I mentioned before dominate. I just do not believe that there is a solution to global warming that we can do without using the media to help spread the word. 

How Can We Switch??

There are many different forms of renewable energies, wind energy, solar energy, geothermal energy, hydro energy, and on, and on. But none of these options would work by themselves. Sure, we could try to run the entire country on solar electricity. But the areas where solar energy is produced in enormous amounts are only in the southwest, so there could be blackouts in Maine since Maine is far away from New Mexico. Renewable energies unlike fossil fuels are spread out across the country because of the United States diverse geographical features. The main reason why they can be used so successfully in pairs is because the different types of energy are so different. If we combine them right we could move toward 100% renewable energy usage

Hydroelectric is one of the most reliable forms of renewable energies. Unlike solar and wind it can produce electricity without having certain weather conditions. There are two types of machines that can produce hydroelectricity. One, is the more atypical building a dam along a river and letting the water go  through parts of a dam where paddles are positioned so the running water will turn them, generating electricity. There are problems with this approach, building a dam impacts the ecosystem of the river it is blocking drastically. One of the good things about this type of energy though is that it is dependable and the dam methord is well know and tested for most problems. The second option is called tidal power. You place wind turbine like propellers either deep under the ocean or close to the shore to use the tide and ocean currents to spin the propellors and generate electricity. A good thing about utilizing tidal technology is that is it reliable, and if the ocean currents stop we have much bigger problems to worry about. The best places to position these tidal turbines is around the coasts of Alaska and Maine.

Only 1% of all the electricity in the US is produced using solar power, because it is the most costly of all the renewable energies. Solar power works like this; sunlight strikes a solar cells, and because that cell is made out of crystal the cell’s electrons begin to more up and down, generating electricity. But to make this process work you need specific types of crystals to make these solar cells. And to grow those crystals is expensive, even with how expensive they are there are still good things. One of those good items about solar energy is that where the highest amounts of concentration of solar power is in the New Mexico area. Also, solar arrays will produce much more electricity in the sommer that any other type of renewable energy, but wont produce as much during the winter because of the shorter amount of daylight. But since solar cells are so expensive manufacture, it is not one of the most popular options when it comes to switching to renewable energy.

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A Bite From the Heart

Things most of us agree on:

The world is heating up. Period.
Is it natural?
Probably not. 
So humans have caused this?
Yea, pretty much.
Well, then we need to do something about it!!!

This last question is, in my opinion, a total roadblock. I thought that since this is my last post I am going be bold and to go out swinging. All the global warming activists, are WRONG! Their approach to the situation of global warming, it WRONG! They spend more time trying to convince the Republican Party and major emitters (who aren’t going to change their minds) that they need to save the environment,  then they spend doing anything about the problem. They are right, global warming is an issue, but these people must grow up and realize not everything goes their way. They need to except the fact that some people will never agree with them and they must carry on saving the world by themselves.

Now here is my other bold statement: There are a lot of people who say they are really worried about global warming and then do absolutely nothing about it! There are even kids in our class who say that is is a serious issue, and have done nothing about it out side and even inside of our class. An example of this is kids in our class might say that global warming is the most important issue in the world, but then they ride to school in a gas guzzling SUV worried about if they had science homework or not. Outside of class, I know for a fact most of the kids in the class care more about their grades than global warming. Let me count how many people I have seen do something to help the environment… ZERO! Alas, I cannot fault these people, because it is not their responsibility to save the world. This idea just frustrates me, because I cannot relate. If I really care about something, I will do something about it. If I do not care about something, I will not do something about it. I will almost never really care about something and yet do nothing about it. For example, I really care about my math grade or basketball, so before my big tests or basketball games, I do a lot of prepare and practice thoroughly so I can impact my game, or grade. The other example is that while I am worried for the future of earth, global warming isn’t really something I am stressing about or invest a lot of time and thought into. In turn, I do not go out of my way to save the environment.

By now if you are still reading my post, you may think that this post is very weird and different than the other posts. Mr. Meyer related global warming to an elephant and we, the class, were taking bites out of different parts of the elephant, and it was impossible to swallow the entire elephant at once. Well, I really liked that analogy. Some people have bit off the leg, butt, head, back, foot and many other places. But I ate from the inside out. I have taken a bite out of the heart of this elephant. The heart of the elephant is the issue. While some people wrote about political and economical effects, or whether it is happening. I skipped the explanation and jumped to the answer. My post may have been very abrupt, but I wanted to give everyone a wakeup call, because when this class is over in a few weeks, I hope that we do not forget that this is an important issue.

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Smart Grids, a Window into the Future??

The word smart makes you think of computers, phones, TV and homes. But a smart grid? Smart grids control energy usage a smart grid is a computerized grid that is managed by computers instead of people. These computers will have access to every valve and every monitor that is connected to the grid. When it realizes that part of the grid is not being used it can turn it off, saving huge amounts of energy. Not just that but it can be used to completely switch our energy sources to renewable instead of coal and oil. Since renewable sources are spread out across the country we will always have energy. If the sun is not shining in Tallahassee then we can harness the waves off the coast of Tampa and trasport some of the energy to Tallahassee using a smart grid. The grid would realize that the sun is not shining in Tallahassee and would search for another source of energy to hook the Tallahassee electric lines to. That is why smart grids are so efective.

One of the big debates over this issue is that if  United States implements smart grids  “Will they actually save energy?” In August of 2012 the state of Vermont implicated their own state-wide smart grid, so far it has yielded results, the predictions are that over the period of a year Vermont’s emissions will be reduced by fifteen percent! This is without incorporating new levels of renewable energy. The power could be in our grasp to create energy independence, and reduce our countries emissions by sixty percent

Smart grids are complex systems, most of the time complex systems can be good, but the more complicated you make a system the more openings a hacker could have. Since the system would be completely operated by computers, the system could entirely be shut down if a virus gets into the main system. Several other ideas have been floated around, ways to stop this nightmare scenario from happening; one of the ideas is to localize the grids by regions. Like the Pacific Northwest would have their own grid, and the southern are around Georgia would get their own grid as well. Switching like this is hard and risky, but it is also risky if we keep the system the way it is, falling apart piece by piece, the trick is to take the right risks to insure safety to all the people who live here.

One other big problem is money, for the individual project in Vermont it took sixty-nine million dollars to accomplish just switching over the technologies, from a basic system to a computerized one. The money was just for one state and a relatively small one at that.  For a state the size of Texas it would take around one thousand nine hundred twenty seven millions of dollars. Right now we are recovering from a recession and don’t have the money to completely change over the grid but we should start in small increments using a combination of federal and state stimulus. In a few years we could start to work our way towards having zero carbon emissions.

A Prediction Come True

Earlier this year I wrote a post about how New York was lagging behind the rest of the United States in regards of preparing for flooding. I read an article written by Mireya Navarro talked about how far New York was behind and what a big storm could do:

Critics say New York is moving too slowly to address the potential for flooding that could paralyze transportation, cripple the low-lying financial district and temporarily drive hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.

And sure enough, on October 25, 2012 Hurricane Sandy came barreling up the East Coast and caused Manhattan and ninety percent of Long Island to go dark. The storm also took the lives of around 130 people in the United States alone. The New York subway system, a lifeline for millions, was paralyzed and remained silent for days. The exact scenario Mireya Navarro talked about happened. She said that if a storm larger than Hurricane Irene – Hurricane Irene caused the city to evacuate and was just one foot away from shutting down the New York subway system – hit the coast, then New York wouldn’t be able to handle all that it would bring. This picture shows Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge in New York

Sandy

On my post I wrote about how shocked I was that New York City was such a big city that was so close to water, and yet they didn’t have the proper protection for a storm like Hurricane Sandy. I also talked about how if a big storm hit NYC they wouldn’t know how to handle it. Mireya Navarro said that before Hurricane Irene hit NYC the city ordered an evacuation and took other steps for people’s safety:

The city shut down the subway system and ordered the evacuation of 370,000 people as Hurricane Irene barreled up the Atlantic coast. Ultimately, the hurricane weakened to a tropical storm and spared the city, but it exposed how New York is years away from — and billions of dollars short of — armoring itself.

Some of the same steps were taken this year on October 25, but the subways flooded this time because of the size of Hurricane Sandy. I found it amazing that MTA(Metropolitan Transportation Authority) Chairman Joseph Lhota talked about how awful Hurricane Sandy was to the city and their subway system:

The New York City subway system is 108 years old, but it has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night. Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on our entire transportation system, in every borough and county of the region. It has brought down trees, ripped out power and inundated tunnels, rail yards and bus depots. As of last night, seven subway tunnels under the East River flooded.

Mr. Lhota’s statement surprised me because he is the Chairman of the MTA and yet he and New York were so shocked about this massive storm crippling their subway system. Sandy wasn’t just one storm, one city, this is the entire world. Although not every big storm is caused by global warming, global warming is definitely a significant contributor to these worsening storms. I wonder if Chairman Joseph Lhota had any idea of the post that was written by Mireya Navarro. And if so, why wasn’t anything done?

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