Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution or major Industrialization around the globe in the late 18th century and the early 19th century, the world saw a spontaneous shift from primitive ways of getting work done to producing thousands of goods in an hour via machines. We call the past methods primitive only because we have had some major technological advancements since the beginning of industrialisation which also had effects on environment.
Rapid Industrialisation gave birth to thousands of industries churning out goods and rapidly evolving with the changing demands of the world. As we can see, this has sparked some brilliant technologies and has improved our lifestyle. If we consider the current situations, things work out quickly now in the 21st century. The world has changed so much in this past decade that for a person from the late 19th century it may seem a new world. This falls true in our case too, maybe there’s a completely new planet, changed so much that it becomes beyond recognition in our future.
If you observe, everything is just increasing! An increasing number of industries, increasing population, increasing need for energy sources to produce ‘Electricity’, etc. Amidst all these increasing problems, there is a major problem increasing rapidly because of our ignorance and focus on other problems. This problem is none other than- Environmental imbalance and decrease in natural resources of our planet.
As the industries started making their foundations strong, they utilized Fossil fuels as their source of energy to produce electricity and power. This led to an ‘increase’ in the rate of depletion of all the natural resources and an ‘increase’ in the environmental issues aroused due to this.
The energy source used to produce ‘Electricity’
Electricity is one of the most important means to complete and perform various activities throughout the day. Without it, our life seems nearly impossible considering our level of dependency on it. But electricity is not that easy to generate. It comes with the cost of heavy environmental damage. There are two types of sources to gain energy based on their availability and replenishment capacity. Renewable and Non-Renewable Sources of energy
Electricity is produced majorly by burning fossil fuels like coal, natural gas and petroleum. To produce steam by heating the water-filled containers. This steam rotates the turbines and that rotation along with a magnetic field induces a current in the generator. This generates electricity in the Power Station. This is a non-renewable source of energy! As all the fossil fuels will eventually run out and its rate of replenishment is very less. The residue left after the burning of fossil fuels is removed via huge chimneys in the form of smoke.
Carbon dioxide is the major byproduct of burning fossil fuels. An increase in smoke emissions throws out more CO2 into the air, warming the temperature of the atmosphere. We already know that CO2 is a greenhouse gas that is the cause of Global Warming. It causes many natural disasters like an increase in sea levels, melting of polar ice caps, deadly heatwaves, etc.
Environment -friendly methods of producing Electricity
Another method of generating electricity is in nuclear plants. Nuclear power is the use of nuclear reactions to produce electricity. Nuclear power can be obtained from nuclear fission, nuclear decay and nuclear fusion reactions. It is the second-largest low-carbon power source after hydroelectricity.
Nuclear power has one of the lowest levels of fatalities per unit of energy generated compared to other energy sources. Coal, petroleum, natural gas and hydroelectricity each have caused more fatalities per unit of energy due to air pollution and accidents. Since its commercialization in the 1970s, nuclear power has prevented about 1.84 million air pollution-related deaths and the emission of about 64 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent that would have otherwise resulted from the burning of fossil fuels.
The normal operation of nuclear power plants and facilities produces radioactive waste or nuclear waste. There are two broad categories of nuclear waste: low-level waste and high-level waste. The first has low radioactivity and includes contaminated items such as clothing, which poses a limited threat. High-level waste is mainly the spent fuel from nuclear reactors.
If operated under regulated conditions and followed proper precautions, this method is very productive and harmless to the environment.
Harnessing nature’s forces to produce Electricity! Renewable Sources
There are many ways to rotate a turbine fast enough to generate electricity through a generator. Three such ways are:
In the coming future, these sources are the only option to keep our ecosystem stable.
Moving towards an environment -friendly way of living!
It’s about time that we understand how these fossil fuel emissions are harmful even though they are comparatively cheaper with very low maintenance costs. Renewable sources of energy are the only savior of our planet’s future natural assets. Otherwise, there will be nothing left for our future generations. Not even a clean and life-supporting planet! Increasing risks of CO2 emissions are now visible with the uneven heat patterns throughout the world.
Measures undertaken to produce electricity:
- There has been a rapid increase in the number of wind farms around the globe with the improvements in technology and blade structures. The problem of large areas being occupied has been resolved by setting up farms in the ocean water near the beaches, hills where there is no scope of habitation. Plus such areas have a higher wind speed.
- Hydroelectricity is the most focused form of energy source as it has many broad advantages. It produces huge output without any environmental harm. As it involves building a dam, this prevents flooding.
- Many people are switching to rooftop solar panels to meet their electricity demands. As it is now comparatively affordable as such panels have a low maintenance cost and take up less space. It provides a sufficient amount of energy with sufficient backup facilities.
Fossil Fuel emissions from our transports!
People are now understanding the importance of environmental balance and why it is necessary. Many companies have started to provide cycle rides from public places, squares to the nearby locality.
If we observe one of the other major causes of air pollution is the emissions from our vehicles like cars, buses, scooters, bikes, aeroplanes, etc. This in turn is a type of fossil fuel burn itself. As petrol or diesel, we use as fuel is a fossil fuel itself. So, in any way the environment is again damaged further.
Some brilliant minds have come up with yet another fantastic solution to this problem. Introduction of electric vehicles. They initially gained no interest when they were first manufactured in the late 18th century. But gradually declined due to the limitations of storage batteries at that time, and the discovery of cheaply available gasoline and petrol reservoirs; however, electric trains gained immense popularity due to their economies and achievable speeds. By the 20th century, electric rail transport became commonplace due to advances in the development of electric locomotives. Electric cars rose to fame and in today’s date are the first choice of people. Not only because of its eco-friendly way of travelling! But also due to the modifications made in the engine, mileage, etc.
A new way of transportation! Electric vehicles at their peak
In the 21st century, EVs have seen a resurgence due to technological developments, and an increased focus on renewable energy and the potential reduction of transportation’s impact on climate change and other environmental issues. Project Drawdown describes electric vehicles as one of the 100 best contemporary solutions for addressing climate change.
As we can see the increase in the production of EVs, every model comes with some new and better innovation to make their car or bike powerful. This is the sign of actual technological advancement which does not harm the environment.
Electric vehicles take in electricity from the grid and store it into rechargeable batteries that power an electric motor.
Electric cars accelerate faster than vehicles with fuel engines. So they feel lighter and easier to drive. There will be a time when we will be seeing more charging stations than fuel stations!
This is a new way of travelling and a path towards a cleaner environment. With the rapid growth of renewable sources of energy and the introduction of Electric vehicles, there is a high chance of reducing the damage already caused to our environment. Still, we have got time, we can still do whatever we can to keep the environment safe. There are many possibilities to end our dependence on fossil fuels for electricity and energy production.
Edited by: Kanishka Tandon
Graphics by: Pranesh Pranat