Energy crisis and its environmental impact
Energy may be defined as any property, which can be produced from or converted into work. In today's world for any development and for all industrial operations, energy is a prerequisite. Life is unthinkable without energy. Energy production and energy utilization are the indicators of a country's progress. Heat, light, electricity are different forms of energy. While energy drives the world, the energy generated and utilised affects environment on a phenomenal scale. More population, rapid industrialisation, increased energy generation, over production, uncontrolled consumption and damages to environment are all inter-linked issues. Major issues are slowly being converted into crisis threatening our survival.
Fire was probably the first human energy technology. Charcoal from fires has been found at sites occupied by our early ancestors. Wind and waterpower have been used early as long. Muscle power provided by domestic animals has been important for agriculture. The invention of the steam engine, together with diminishing supplies of wood in industrializing countries caused a switch to coal as our major energy source in the nineteenth century. Coal in turn, has been replaced by oil in this century due to the ease of shipping, storing and burning liquid fuels. Recently electricity and gas (petrol) has changed the economic prosperity and lifestyle in many countries.
Energy sources that are being made available continuously are known as renewable energy sources. (Eg). geothermal energy, wind energy, tidal energy, solar energy, ocean currents, nuclear fusion, gobar gas, biomass and vegetable refuse etc.
Non-renewable sources of energy - those sources, which are being accumulated in nature from a very long time and cannot be replaced if they are exhausted. (Ex). Coal, ores, petroleum, timber, natural gas, electricity etc. Fossil fuels like petroleum, natural gas and coal are now providing about 95% of all commercial energy in the world.
Energy crisis is due to the increase in population accompanied by rapid urbanization and industrialization. Our resources of petroleum and natural gas are dwindling day by day. We can hardly expect the oil industry to operate at full capacity until the last drop is removed from the ground. It appears that we will run out of petroleum and natural gas by about 2020 unless domestic supplies are extended by taking one or more of the following steps.
1.Reduce the consumption of fuels : The principal target areas are heating and transportation, which account for about 18% and 25% respectively, of our total energy requirements. The consumption of fuel in these areas can be reduced by (a) proper insulation of existing buildings and design changes in new constructions (eg. using less plate glass), (it saves about 33% of energy) (b)improving the fuel economy of automobiles, (c) using more efficient means of transportation.
2. Develop new sources of energy: The energy crisis has prompted the development of alternate energy sources (alternatives to fossil fuels) other than the heat available from the combustion of fossil fuels.