Environmental Engineering Reference
In-Depth Information
Chapter 1
The Energy Evolution
When oil prices increase, the interest in alternatives increases. Recent
hydrogen demonstration programs are being conducted by states such as
California where the concern of air quality is high which makes finding
solutions more urgent.
Alternate energy becomes more popular but major questions remain
to be answered on which fuel or fuels will emerge and to what extent al-
ternative sources will replace gasoline as the main product of crude oil.
Oil and other non-renewable fossil fuels are being quickly consumed,
which is creating major impacts on air and water pollution as well as con-
cern on global climate change. A shift to zero-carbon emission solar hy-
drogen systems could fundamentally resolve these energy supply and en-
vironmental problems. Hydrogen can be manufactured from water with
algae and other microorganism, as well as with any source of electricity.
New electrical production options include coal and nuclear power plants
or solar technologies, such as photovoltaic, wind and ocean thermal sys-
Civilization has experienced exceptional developments during the
last 200 years. This was spurred by the discovery and use of fossil fu-
els and resulted large productivity gains. Humans now number over 6
billion persons, more than 6 times the population that existed before the
discovery of fossil fuels. Even persons with moderate incomes in indus-
trialized countries have, in many aspects, much more disposable energy,
more comfortable homes, far better appliances, better health care choic-
es, and more enjoyable living conditions than the most wealthy king or
queen that reigned before fossil fuels were exploited. Millions of average
citizens regularly drive cars and trucks on improved roadways with suffi-
cient power to comfortably travel 300 miles at 60 MPH. More millionaires
and billionaires now exert their economic reigns than at any previous time
in history.
Progress was always possible when better tools were invented.
Inventions that emphasized lighter, stronger and potentially more useful
alloys defined the Iron Age of progress.
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