The issues associated with the continued of fossil fuels are complex. What is undisputed, however, is the world is turning to meet the challenge through renewable energy.
When one thinks of the amount of energy needed to power the modern world, it is easy to get a headache. The sheer volume is so massive as to be difficult to picture. Now that we have awakened to environment, climate and societal problems associated with the continued use of fossil fuels, it is interesting to hear the politicians suddenly thinking green.
Ten years ago, who would have imagined the Terminator, now the Governator of California, driving around in a hybrid hummer? Well, he does. More so, Governor Schwarzenegger happens to arguably be the greenest politician in the Unites States when it comes to actually taking action. California, after all, has just instituted a 3 billion dollar solar energy plan.
Alas, the federal government falls on its face when it comes to energy issues. Beholden to big oil, there current administration simply refuses to acknowledge there is a problem, much less take action. For many in the country, this must give the impression that nothing is being done around the world. In fact, much is being done, but the U.S. simply is not taking part.
For example, give some thought to Victoria, Australia. This province has just committed itself to obtaining 60 percent of all of its energy from renewable sources by 2016. That is a staggering number.
How about Germany? The Germans lead the world in wind and solar technology. By 2020, a full 20 percent of the total German energy supply will come from renewable energy. If you have ever experienced the lights of Berlin at night, you know that is impressive.
How about Norway? The country is 99 percent reliant on renewable energy sources. Norway has no petroleum powered power plants. None! It imports no oil. In fact, it exports nearly all of its oil resources, making it the third biggest exporter in the world behind Saudi Arabia and Russia.
How about Brazil? The country is known for its “interesting” political situation, yet it has managed to turn itself into a clean energy giant in South America. The reason is the country has converted much of its transportation, public and private, to ethanol. By 2007, it is believed most transportation in Brazil will run on 100 percent ethanol, which is a biofuel made from sugar cane. The price per gallon of ethanol is half that of oil. If the United States was to take the same step, the savings on oil each year would be close to $2 trillion dollars.
The above represent only a few samples of a world making a concerted clean energy effort. Unfortunately, the United States is both the biggest consumer of fossil fuels and emitter of greenhouse gases. Until we follow these changes, the process will be incomplete.