Are Sustainable Energy Sources Environmentally Friendly?


Wind Turbines killing birds.

Adrian Vasquez, Website Editor

Renewable energy has become more and more the optimal energy source for the past two decades. Awareness of global warming and environmental degradation due to mineral mining and coal burning has given light to the fact that extracting, processing, and using non renewable resources harms the planet to an extreme extent.  Renewable resources are now being utilized in order to become more economically and ecologically friendly.

Coal, oil, and other minerals used for energy have been substantial sources of energy for humans for a long time. These non-renewable sources of energy are easy to extract, and offer a lot of jobs worldwide; however, there is a catch. Using these resources generates sulfur in our atmosphere. This derives into a plethora of ecological problems. Aquatic ecosystems like salt and freshwater environments degrade from sulfur emissions. Sulfuric acid is a result of SO3 being absorbed by bodies of water. This is killing aquatic ecosystems at an alarming and exponential rate. Our oceans aren’t the only ecosystem subject to fossil fuel emissions.

Global warming has been a big issue since the industrial era. CO2 is emitted from burning fossil fuels; furthermore, about 82% of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere comes from human activities. About 36.18 billion metric tonnes has been emitted in 2015, and has been increasing since. Because it is a green house gas, CO2 traps heat in our atmosphere, and intensifies our heat; thus resulting in climate changes. For the past decade, each year in chronicle order has beat the previous year in the hottest temperatures recorded. Global warming is detrimental to us because of temperature changes and sea levels rising.

Solar plant killing birds.

This would make it seem that renewable energy would be an optimal solution in replacing non-renewable energy consumption; however, there have been multiple cases in which renewable energy devices have harmed animal life. For instance, wind turbines have accumulated 214,000 to 368,000 bird mortalities annually (US Today). Another example would be how dams disturb freshwater ecosystems, and, ultimately, kill off fish populations. Solar Panels, the Mojave Desert solar plant specifically, kills about 6000 birds a year by reflecting an extreme amount of solar energy at them when flying across the plant, killing them instantly.

Although the effects of using renewable energy devices aren’t putting humanity’s well being in danger, unlike extracting non renewable resources, we must take sympathy to animal life into account. We have a responsibility to respect and protect all life on earth, both intelligent and non-intelligent. Killing these animals only hurts our environment; thus, potentially hurting us in the unforeseen future.