Many people nowadays are turning to renewable energy for their power. They know that renewables are a necessary alternative to fossil fuels and other non renewables, which will eventually run out. Most are also aware that renewable energy is kinder to the planet and society. But exactly how does non renewable energy affect the environment? Non renewables can often pollute the environment and cause other damage, making the switch to renewable energy even more important. Here’s how non renewable energy can impact the world and what you can do to help combat its effects.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Non renewable energy typically releases carbon dioxide, methane, and other gasses into the atmosphere. These are called greenhouse gasses because, similar to the way a greenhouse creates a warm atmosphere for plants, the gasses create a warming effect across the planet. Different types of fuels release different levels of greenhouse gasses, with coal producing the highest amount. Natural gas, which releases the least amount when it is burned, is often considered a safer choice. However, this type of gas releases a large amount of methane — a potent greenhouse gas — when it is extracted. As we burn more non renewable fuels, we continue heating the planet, which contributes to changing weather patterns that in turn affect food production, animal ecosystems, and essential biodiversity within habitats.
As fossil fuels and other non renewables burn, they also release pollutants that can make it more difficult to breathe. Coal produces mercury, which then floats through the air and is either breathed in or deposited in waterways, where fish and other sources of food will ingest it. Mercury can cause neurological defects in children and become poisonous if eaten, making air pollution a real concern. In addition to mercury, fossil fuels may also release sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter, all of which can cause breathing issues and other health concerns. As more non renewable energy is burned, the quality of our air will continue to decline, forcing more and more people to take otherwise unnecessary measures to protect their health.
Water pollution can take many forms. One of these, acid rain, occurs when sulphur and other chemicals permeate the atmosphere. The mild acidity they cause in rain can corrode machinery, disrupt animal environments, and damage trees. Water pollution can also occur when the water changes temperature as a result of non renewable resource use. For example, power plants use water to cool the plant as it operates. When that water is released back into the environment, its cooler temperature can negatively impact wildlife. Warmer waters, meanwhile, may decrease the fertility of fish or cause them to change their migration patterns, impacting coasting towns that depend on fishing for survival and changing familiar ecosystems for other wildlife.
The extraction processes of non renewable resources can have devastating effects on the land. Surface mining requires large amounts of rock and soil to be dumped in other locations to access the coal beneath. This changes habitats and ecosystems in unexpected ways and can cause animals to relocate. Mining also damages the quality of the soil and sometimes becomes polluted because of the chemicals used in the process, particularly when fracking is used to harvest fuels. This can poison plants that serve as sources of food for wildlife and may also make the soil unusable for farming, exacerbating food shortages throughout the world and leading to higher food prices in other areas.
Oil Spills and Accidents
Mining, extracting, and transporting fossil fuels can lead to damaging accidents. Oil spills are particularly devastating. They can drive away tourists and sea life alike, severely impacting coastal economies that depend on these industries. Changes in sea life can also lead to the loss of food sources and habitats for various other species. Other accidents include pipeline leaks, nuclear meltdowns, and even explosions, all of which can seriously harm people, animals, and the environment. The fallout from these events can often be catastrophic, requiring millions of dollars and permanently damaging parts of the environment, which can take decades to begin recovering.
Get in touch with Green Tech Talk for more information about renewable and non renewable resources, and visit the site on a regular basis to read more about the latest innovations in renewables. By staying informed, you can become a more educated consumer of energy and make choices that create positive change for the planet. Consider switching to an electric car, calling your power provider to ask that your electricity come from renewable resources, and taking other steps to make renewable energy a stronger part of your daily life. You may also be better equipped to support renewable energy initiatives within your community to introduce widespread change that has a more permanent impact on the planet.