There’s no doubt about it: contemporary society is totally dependent on fossil fuels for literally everything.
You can call it an inconvenient truth, an uneasy fact, or the 500-pound gorilla in the room – but the impact of fossil fuels on human civilization is undeniable…for better or for worse.
From heating homes and vehicles, driving the big machine of manufacturing, logistics, and industry, as well as powering the world with electricity, fossil fuels have played a fundamental role in the growth, development, and progress of development. That much is clear as day.
However, everybody’s got to pay the piper.
The other side of the coin of progress is that of serious realities of using fossil fuels that contemporary society needs to address.
Fossil fuels and the need for a shift
The combustion of fossil fuel is the world’s greatest source of air pollution. Couple that with the constantly growing demand for oil and coal, and you have a powder keg of global proportions with far-ranging circumstances – which society as a whole needs to come to terms with sooner than later.
Just think about it. Beijing has seen its air quality index register a 482 on July 1, 2017 – 382 points above the safe level of the air quality index (100).
That is just 18 points before 500, which is the highest value on the scale.
That is an astronomical amount of pollution in the capital city of China, which, by the way, is the world’s largest consumer of fossil fuels according to the Institute for Energy Research.
Enter clean energy – by definition, energy coming from renewable and emission-free sources – and the fact that it is starting to become less expensive as a solution to the legacy standard of fossil fuels.
It’s a tantalizing prospect that is gaining traction faster than its doubters think.
After all, solar power, as well as wind power, are among the most cost-effective solutions to energy production there are today. The onward march of new and disruptive tech is also changing the way we think about a full, worldwide paradigm shift towards renewable energies as a whole – including addressing the question of air pollution, which will be the main focus of this discussion.
The disastrous effects of air pollution
The adoption of clean energy in order to address the harrowing specter of global air pollution brings forth a plethora of numerous benefits, particularly for public health.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution accounts for some 7 million deaths worldwide annually.
It impacts all of us – whether rich or poor, and the inhalation and exposure to air pollutants for an extended period of time can lead to irreparable damage to our respiratory, cardiovascular, and nervous systems.
That’s not yet including the impact of air pollution on climate change, regardless of whether you believe it or otherwise. The fact of the matter is, temperatures are rising globally, and that air pollution plays an integral role in climate change.
Air pollution impacts the elderly, children, infants, lower-income and minorities, as well as those living with respiratory illnesses in urban areas. It has been linked to cognitive and respiratory problems, as well as childhood cancers.
It affects all of us. No exceptions.
How does clean energy alleviate air pollution?
First and foremost, it is important to know what the options are as far as clean energy goes.
Here are the most common sources of clean energy and how they can help alleviate the question of air pollution:
- Solar energy. Produced from solar panels powered by the sun, solar energy is among the leading sources of clean energy that does not produce carbon dioxide waste. This leads to reduced greenhouse gas emissions and cleaner air, representing an attractive option.
- Wind energy. Wind energy is harvested by turbines, which do not produce emissions nor introduce pollutants into the air.
- Hydroelectric energy. Hydroelectric power is produced through electrical generators and hydraulic turbines, harnessing the force of the flow of water into electricity.
- Geothermal power. Geothermal energy is powered through the earth’s natural heat sources just a few kilometers beneath its surface. It is harnessed through power plants or heat pumps, which use the earth’s heat for steam, which is turned into electricity. In addition, geothermal energy is not considered to be as harmful as fossil fuels are.
These clean and renewable energy sources are picking up steam in adoption, to say the least – thanks to how well they perform in terms of generating a significantly lower carbon footprint and how better they are in preserving air quality as opposed to fossil fuels.
How does clean energy alleviate air pollution?
As the world seeks alternatives to fossil fuels, there will be plenty of pushback – that much is for sure. But urgent action is needed from everyone to understand the devastating effects of air pollution on the global population.
Education will play a large role in disseminating the benefits of clean energy, and fine-tuning how we harness clean energy should lead to a groundswell of support for policies that will hopefully lead to positive change – for the benefit of us all.