How Can We Responsibly Consume Energy?
by Genesis Idowu
Energy is the world’s most used substance. The use of energy has increased rapidly since the 1800s. It has become a strong pillar for global development across every industrial and technological sector in every country, as it is the power source of civilization.
However, it’s been challenging, balancing these developments with respect to environmental health to ensure a high standard of living for everyone. This makes it a potential nemesis to us, which can be seen in global warming and its effects.
Global energy consumption
This comprises the total amount of energy produced and used by the entire human civilization. It involves energy gotten from all sources or energy applied towards human endeavors across sectors globally, without including energy from food or biomass burning.
According to the US Energy Information Agency, humans used about 575 quadrillion BTU of energy in 2015, with a population of 7.3 billion, making it 78 Btu per person. This estimation gives a glimpse of how much we depend on energy. Differences between countries in the amount of energy consumed reflect income level or climate. This is due to energy efficiency measures implemented and their attitude, thereby causing disparity in energy consumption between some of the most developed economies.
For example, Germany and Japan consume far less energy than the United States. The Asia and Pacific region has the highest primary energy consumption. And with a fast-growing economy and a population of over a billion, China is the highest primary consumer globally.
Responsible Energy Consumption
All energy sources have some impact on our environment. Fossil fuels — coal, oil, and natural gas — do more harm to us by most measures. They cause air and water pollution, damage to public health, wildlife, habitat loss, water use, land use, and global warming.
However, renewable sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and hydropower have environmental impacts, some of which are significant. The exact type and intensity of environmental impacts varies depending on the specific technology used, the geographic location, and a number of other factors. By understanding the current and potential environmental issues associated with each renewable energy source, we can effectively avoid or minimize these impacts as they become a larger portion of our electric supply.
The two principal ways of reducing energy consumption are energy efficiency and energy conservation. Energy efficiency involves doing the same amount of work or producing the same amount of goods or services with less energy. Energy conservation involves using less energy, regardless of whether energy efficiency has changed. The other significant options available to address climate change are direct reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, long-term carbon storage, and adaptation.
Energy efficiency and conservation differ from other options, such as renewable energy and carbon separation, because they offer an opportunity for payback of the initial investment through cost savings. They also reduce the demand for fossil fuels, the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, and can be implemented right away.
Energy consumption seems like an inevitable thing required in our daily lives and in every sector. Also, the duty to take the measures to curtail its usage or be more conservative is something we must take seriously if we desire an environment fit to live in even for unborn generations.
Hence, implementations must begin from every industrial community in every country, every home in every urban area down to the single hut in the rural areas. Enlightenment should be done where necessary to teach the younger generation the need to be more conservative. A popular saying goes thus: “There is no place like home,” and indeed, there is no planet like Earth.
So let’s join hands to sustain the Earth.