Energy’s influence on ecology
Research and evaluation of the negative impact of the production, transportation and use of energy on the environment and ecosystems. Analysis of possible measures to minimize the impact of energy use on the environment. The danger of fossil fuels.
|Рубрика||Экология и охрана природы|
|Размер файла||16,7 K|
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Energy's influence on ecology
Production, transportation and use of energy, they all have a big impact on the environment and ecosystems. Unfortunately, energy almost always has a negative impact on the environment, from direct ecological disasters such as oil spills, acid rains and radioactive emission, and ending with indirect consequences, such as global warming. Because the energy needs of mankind will continue to increase in the coming decades, the need for some measures that will help to minimize the impact of energy use on the environment, do exist. The most dangerous energy sources are currently fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas), and potential danger also arises in the form of used radioactive fuel for nuclear power plants (highly radioactive waste). Fossil fuels are dangerous because when burning they emit large amounts of carbon dioxide.
Majority of the world's energy is still gained from ecologically unacceptable energy sources, especially fossil fuels which are still dominant energy source. Since fossil fuels have coal as their base, normal combustion of these fuels results in carbon dioxide (CO2) which is a greenhouse gas. This carbon dioxide mostly ends up in the atmosphere and with its greenhouse effect causes the global warming. Even more dangerous is the gas that is released during the incomplete fuel combustion (combustion without the needed amount of oxygen), and this is carbon monoxide (CO). Carbon monoxide is extremely poisonous gas without color, taste or scent, and its concentration of just 0.6% is causing death after only 15 minutes of the inhalation.
At the moment, not one single fossil fuel is not completely cleaned, and therefore other harmful gases such as sulfur dioxide or nitric oxide are released during combustion. These gases later react with the water steam in the clouds forming drops that are falling on earth in the form of weak sulfuric acid and nitric acid - acid rains, and these rains have extremely negative impact on all the ecosystems they're catching. Combustion of some energy sources leads to the shape of small particles of minerals, which later form ash, but a certain amount of these particles rises up to the atmosphere carried by a swirl of smoke. These particles are very dangerous for human health.
Norms for the use of environmentally sound energy sources are still insignificant on a global scale, and environmental problems due to excessive use of fossil fuels still deserve special attention not only from the energy, but, of course, from the environmental point of view. Different energy sources have different effect on the environment in which these energy sources are manufactured, transported or used. Surface ozone is the result of the reaction that happens once a stagnant air and sunny weather nitric oxide reacts with organic volatiles. Nitric oxide on the surface is usually the result of the fossil fuels' combustion, and organic volatiles are formed from smoke of the fuels, variety of solvents and similar. Surface ozone has negative effect on airways and decreases working capacity of the lungs, can cause nose and eyes irritation, and generally reduce ability of the people in doing their normal activities.
Despite the positive fact some significant progress in some areas, at least reduce, if not stop global climate change, overall progress continues to meet and there are many uncertainties that need to be addressed if we want to put an end to global warming. Emissions of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere did not have significant reduction, opponents of the Kyoto Protocol, which should play a key role, suggests that reducing emissions under the Kyoto Protocol will place a heavy burden on the economy. Some detailed analyses were already performed and results showed that economic losses wouldn't be that big as the opponents of the Kyoto protocol said they would and on the contrary would be very acceptable in relation with positive effects of reducing the greenhouse gasses emissions. USA has signed the Kyoto protocol, but still hasn't ratified it and it's not certain will it be ratified after all because Kyoto protocol is only valid until the year 2012, when it should be replaced with some other agreement. 172 states from the list of the states which have signed and ratified Kyoto protocol are currently producing 61,6% of the total greenhouse gases emission. In addition to America, Australia has not ratified this Protocol, and China and India, despite the ratification, are not required under the current agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, so the question about the significance of the Kyoto Protocol is set fair, especially when you consider the fact that America releases into the atmosphere the greatest amount of greenhouse gases, and has still not ratified the agreement. But only the Kyoto Protocol will not be enough without proper legislative support and, therefore, the law must do its share. In addition to greenhouse gas, as current No. 1 problem, you need to answer another question-how to prevent environmental disaster and pollution of nature in General.
Acid rains are created when free non-metallic sulfur oxides get connected with the water steam in the atmosphere in to the compounds of sulfuric and nitric acids which are later falling on the earth in the form of the drops. Acid rains are one of the major reasons of the death of the forests because sulfur dioxide, which is by far the most harmful substance in the air, is transforming to a sulfuric acid which has disastrous effect on the entire flora. Sulfuric acid has an extremely negative impact on the green plants, as it destroys the process of photosynthesis, which damages the leaves, and then leads to deforestation. Sulfuric acid melts the nutrients (calcium) required for plant tissues, and this acid also enters the roots and leaves, damaging their tissue basement. In addition to plants, acid rain also cause serious pollution of water, reducing its concentration in pH, which causes a disturbance of the whole ecosystem due to the significant concentration decrease of pH leads to the extinction of microorganisms, and of course there is the problem of drinking water. Pollution of the water is the largest problem because the pollution from air gets transported by acid rains to the soil and there is a chance of its flow to the surface and the underground water flows. Acid rains are one of the major reasons of decreasing the supplies of the drinking water on the world level and are presenting serious threat to the future water supply of the mankind. Although there is a progress in preventing the acid rains (for instance in America are sued methods of coal purification in which dangerous compounds of sulfur are being removed out of the coal), danger from acid rains isn't over, despite it seems lately like unimportant compared to the global warming. Acid rains are still big problem in some Asian countries, like China that is because of high rate of industrialization paying price in form of acid rains.
There is also a big problem in possible tanker incidents where oil tanker leaks large quantities of the oil into the ocean. There are many possible ways of oil spilling like equipment failures, wars between the states, terrorist attacks and illegal dumping of the oil where illegal dumpers dump crude oil into the oceans because they don't want to spend money on decomposing it, and natural factors like hurricanes which can cause the oil tanker to flip over. Spilling of the oil has horrible effects to the complete ecosystem that is hit by spilling: birds are dying if their feathers are covered in oil because they're trying to clean their selves and by doing so birds get poisoned and are dying because the oil comes to their lungs and the same thing happens to other animals as well when oil gets in their lungs. The biggest oil spill into the ocean happened in 198, and is connected with the tanker Exxon Valdez and its releasing of 42 millions liters of crude oil. This ecological disaster has left its gigantic mark despite the fact that company Exxon alone spend more than two billions of dollars in order to clean the sea and the coast from pollution. As the result of this ecological disaster, large number of animal and plant species has forever gone from the hit Cook Inlet to the Prince William's passage where this disaster happened. Cleaning attempts were also very bad as some experts are saying, because detergents and other chemicals have caused even additional pollution of the sea. In order to prevent as much as possible this negative impact of ecological disasters as the result of spilling of the oil, American Congress passed in 1990 so called Ocean Pollution Act (OPA) in which the major accent is on these issues: every owner of the tanker must have detailed plan in the case of possible disaster, which has to be in the written form; tankers must have a double hull, every owner of a boat that spills oil has to pay $1200 for every ton that spills and coast guard must always know where are oil tankers and giving them instructions where to drive to prevent the spilling. But as long the oil is insisted like primary energy generating product, tanker incidents and ocean pollutions with terrible consequences will happen, although this OPA measures are positive steps to preventing the tanker incidents and reduce the effects of occurring incidents.
The most horrible example of nuclear disaster is Chernobyl which pointed the huge dimensions that nuclear disaster can be having and emphasized necessity of the maximal safety measures in the existing nuclear power plants and also influenced on the governments to decrease the number of future projects that were involving building of the nuclear power plants. Chernobyl catastrophe was caused by one of the radioactive cloud that spread to areas even outside the former Soviet Union and cost the lives of many victims, from the crew of the power plant, rescue workers and firefighters who all died not long after the explosion and up to a huge number of people who died due to the effects of exposure to radioactive emissions and the number of which according to some unofficial statistics, the UN is more than 30 000. Along with a possible explosion at the plant and there is a big problem in the storage of radioactive waste, which can also be very deadly. While there is no method that would allow eternal neutralization of nuclear fuel, but there are some positive improvements that could reduce the problems with storing nuclear waste. But there are still many theories about where to store the waste and is still mostly used abandoned mines and rural and braking areas, but this is not really a long-term solution.
Undoubtedly, in the near future, the energy region will be systematically developed and will remain the predominant thermal power generation. There is a high probability of increasing the share of coal and other types of fuel in energy production. Solutions to power engineering problems Negative impact of energy on livelihoods is required to lower? and for this purpose have already been developed several ways to solve the problem. All methods are based on the modernization of the technologies of fuel preparation and extraction for hazardous waste. In particular, to reduce the impact of negative energy is proposed:
1) To use advanced pollution control equipment. At this time, the majority of TES trapped particulate emissions by installing filters. The most harmful pollutants trapped in small quantities.
2) To reduce the flow of sulphur compounds in ambient air by a preliminary desulfurization of the most commonly used types of fuel. Chemical or physical techniques will allow to extract from the fuel resources more than half of the sulphur before combustion.
3) A real prospect of reducing the negative impact of energy and reduction of emissions associated with simple savings. It is possible to implement through the use of new technologies based on the exploitation of automated computer equipment.
4) To save electricity in the home is possible by improving the insulation characteristics of houses.
5) Significantly improve fuel efficiency and reduce the negative effects of energy, through the use of fuel resources instead of the TPP on TPP. In this situation, the object of producing electricity closer to the point of use and reducing losses arising from the direction a large distance. Together with electricity in the CHP is actively operated catch the cooling agents in heat.
Use the above methods to a certain extent, will reduce the negative consequences of the impact energy. Continuous development of the energy sector requires a holistic approach to solving problems and implementing new technologies.
Mankind will be, not very far in the future, forced to find ecologically acceptable energy sources which will have to be enough to cover energetic needs. Momentarily there are renewable energy sources as the ecologically acceptable solution, but still it isn't really to expect suitable commercialization of these energy sources, big enough to cover the growing energetic needs of the population. Sun's energy isn't enough exploitable and is very expensive, wind energy isn't available in all areas in sufficient quantities and energetic potentials of water are already mostly used. Geothermal energy could be optimally exploited only on tectonic faults which are areas on Earth where thermal energy from inner of the Earth comes very near the surface. Tidal power and wave power are huge potential, but aren't that reachable and therefore at this moment not very useable to generate energy.
Bioenergy or more precise biofuels are making their place as the replacement for traditional fossil fuels, but this fuels are also releasing greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere and aren't completely ecologically acceptable. There is also one ethical problem regarding biofuels. Since biofuels are made out of the sugar cane, corn, soybean and other plants which can be use as the food. In this way rich states are producing biofuels by transforming the food into the fuel while on the other hand there are lots of people dying from hunger, where this food could easily save their lives.
Clean energy in large quantities could be at this moment produced only in nuclear power plants. Nuclear power plants aren't almost having any effect on the environment if during the exploit all regulations are strictly followed. Besides the Chernobyl there weren't major problems regarding nuclear power stations, and Chernobyl itself, really can't happen again because all modern nuclear power stations have extremely well solved active as well the passive safety. With researching projects in the field of nuclear fission's safety, there is also lot of technologies that could be used for future production of the energy. A highest hope is lying within the project ITER. ITER is an international project where technology for exploitation of nuclear fusion is being developed. Nuclear fusion is joining of two easy atoms into one heavier with release of the energy and that procedure should be completely ecologically acceptable
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