As the United States and European countries grow in population they also begin to more understand (albeit slowly) the environmental impacts of our coal and fossil fuel energy consumption and ozone choking vehicle emissions. As a result, Europe along with the US has become more aware of the environmental benefits of green, alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, battery and biofuel technologies. Coupled with a down slide in our global economies and high unemployment rates, the benefits of green technologies have also proved to be a possible and viable economic and job producing savior.
However, as both European and US populations grow so do the populations increase in G-20 nations including Russia, Brazil, Mexico, China, India and other developing Asian countries. The energy demands and therefore environmental impacts are staggering when China alone could go from having about 50 million cars and trucks on the road to having 300 million in less than 40 years. As reported by the Environmental News Network (ENS), MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change’s 2012 Energy and Climate Outlook, projects that energy use could double by 2050. If included to this equation the vehicle demand of other G-20 nations, there will be four times more vehicles on the road by 2050 than there are today bringing the estimated number to 20 billion cars on the road worldwide. John Reilly, the co-director of the Joint Program on Global Change and a lead author of the study, reports While we have known for some time that large economies outside Europe, North America and Japan would have a growing influence on greenhouse gas emissions and the climate, the dramatic increase in their energy use and vehicle emissions [by 2050], is staggering.
I already predict the arguments to this, stating the pledges that were made by G-20 nations at an international meeting in 2009 to cap emission by 2020. However, I believe that to be a very optimistic, unattainable goal and mostly smoke and mirrors for a public demanding action considering the high demands of energy and the convenient accessibility to coal and fossil fuels in developing nations.
As nations populations grow, so do the demands on energy, resulting with increased carbon emissions to our environment and atmosphere. The MIT’s report states: As Russia, Brazil, Mexico, China, India and developing countries grow and substantially increase their energy use, they would also likely become the largest sources of emissions — contributing to a doubling of global GHG emissions, and a tripling of global carbon emissions over the century.” This would suggest that our efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and to promote alternative energy sources would need to quadruple in the coming years to remain just abreast of the environmental dangers we now face.
Not included into this equation is the increase in global temperatures as a result of rising emissions. Although a debate still open, temperatures would warm by as much as 6.7 degrees Celsius by the end of the century and although such a rise in temperatures may not to dramatically effect our present lives, you must ask yourself the question: what kind of world do I want to leave behind for my children and grandchildren to live in? If we do nothing now, then the answer to that question is frightening.
With our current misuse of fossil and coal energy, we are, undeniably and without a doubt on a path to destruction. Greenhouse gasses are unforgiving and pose an irreversible threat to our environment and our preciously delicate atmosphere.
Reilly says while their projections are similar, the MIT report has a wider scope. “The forecasts presented here are similar through that period , but by including detailed projections through 2050, as well as the global climate and environmental implications of population and economic growth through to 2100, we begin to see much more clearly the environmental risks we are likely to face if we continue the path we are on.
If equated to a terrorist threat level, the threat we pose to our environment, atmosphere and globe presently and foremost in the near future, is a clear and absolute Level Red. This is not a political debate rather a human error to the responsibility we globally share to our planet. An error we must address now before we look back and wish we had done something sooner. We can no longer look to oil-hungry governments for the solution rather it is our human responsibility to act privately, to lead and educate on a global level. We must collectively choose and subsidize alternative energy sources, emission-free vehicles and green technologies here and to developing countries, as is the purpose of many global solar companies, ruly as the world changes what is done here and now will affect what happens elsewhere in the world. As the population grows and demands more luxuries and goods, the need for energy and the potential increase of environmental harm rises. It is not just the efforts of one nation or person but the efforts of all to change these inevitable environmental impacts before it is too late; before we leave behind a global legacy for our children to enjoy as they lay on their innocent backs, watching through gas masks, as the fluffy brown clouds ooze by.
By: Darren Home