Renewable Resources: Humankind’s best shot at slowing climate change



Renewable resources, wind and solar, are alternatives to the use of fossil fuels. They also have minimal negative environmental impacts, unlike those associated with fossil fuels.

Daniel Greilsheimer, Contributing Writer

Although climate change has recently entered the forefront of the news, the specific global warming component has yet to be directly addressed.  According to a recent United Nations report, humans are on track to reach an average global temperature increase of 1.5 degree celsius by 2030.

Global warming has been proven to worsen as a result of increasing carbon emissions, specifically due to humans’ reliance on fossil fuels and greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide.  Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, which traps heat energy in the ozone. 

Although that rise may seem insignificant, this seemingly minor increase could cause drastic changes.  If humans do not prevent this temperature increase, certain species might be in danger of extinctions.  Furthermore, huge ice chunks can melt, leading to an increase in the ocean sea level and flooding in certain coastal areas.

So what are scientists trying to do to prevent this temperature increase?  Well, scientists can’t single-handedly alter the path of global warming, which means everyone must pitch in to reduce the production of carbon dioxide. 

In order to be successful in these endeavors, the world would need to stop using coal and other fossil fuels and instead start taking advantage of renewable resources, such as sunlight and wind.

For example, the Consumer Energy in Michigan has an ambitious plan of reducing their carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2040.  Renewable resources have become widespread in order to reduce these emissions, such as a hydroelectric plant, wind turbines, and solar panels. 

Reflecting of their major feat, carbon emissions have reduced by 38 percent since 2008 and are on track to continue to decrease.  Other states should look to Michigan as an example of drastically reducing emissions one step at a time.

As seen in Michigan, there are plenty of different renewable energy methods that can help reduce climate change and the production of carbon dioxide. 

One of these options is solar energy, which takes heat from the sun to produce electricity, otherwise known as utilizing photovoltaic cells.  This works by allowing particles of light from the sun to knock electrons free from atoms within the cells, generating electricity.

Another renewable energy option is wind, which involves wind turbines.  As the wind turbines spin the propellor blades, they are connected to the rotor.  Since the rotor is connected to a generator, when the rotor spins, the generator creates electricity.

“We should keep using renewable resources because it is better than nonrenewable resources because they don’t hurt the environment,” said freshman Maxwell Meehan.

More alternative than the typical alternative resources, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) could be implemented.  It uses energy from trees and plants, and then stores the resulting emissions underground.  This helps take carbon dioxide out of the air, therefore alleviating some climate change because there is less of that specific greenhouse gas in the air. 

The bottom line is that human waste and carbon emissions are catching up to nature and humanity.  The use of these resources is hotly debated on all levels ranging from the government to businesses and even to our very own homes for a variety of reasons. 

However, using renewable resources instead of fossil fuels is surely the answer to reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the air.  In order to ensure the successful future of our planet, global warming must be addressed sooner rather than later.