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Home / Environment

Green Energy and Development of Alternative Energy

By:Terry Mickelson

In March 2009, Qatar Airways is launching its direct flights between Doha and Houston, two leading energy capitals of the world. This is further indication of our nation's long term dependence on foreign oil: a major challenge facing the nation that poses a threat to our country's national security. But today, breaking our oil addiction does not seem like an unattainable goal as President Barack Obama, in his first week in office, reaffirmed his campaign promise of achieving energy independence. Mr. Obama reiterated his determination to end U.S. reliance on oil from the Middle East and Venezuela over the next ten years.

Mr. Obama sees sources of alternative energy as the answer to our nation's energy problems. He repeatedly asserted that we need to dramatically change the ways we generate and use energy. Not only is it in our nation's long-term best interest to adopt clean and renewable energy but also it is critical for the future of our planet. Dependence on costly and finite sources of energy as President Obama suggests, will not take us very far.

Much of the thought process behind green energy relates to the concept of sustainable development. The term was coined by the Brundtland Commission in 1987 to describe "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." In short, it means not only thinking about our immediate concerns, but also considering the conditions in which we will leave the planet for our children and our children's children. By "going green" we are making a commitment to give the least amount of damage to our planet and its inhabitants as possible.

Barack Obama's bold new national plan on energy efficiency has been well received around the world, especially in Europe. Leaders of major European countries and the European Commission, the executive wing of the European Union, demonstrated their unequivocal support for the President's comprehensive new energy plan for America. Both the Obama administration and European leaders know that achieving this goal is not easy and requires collective action.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden both asserted their understanding that the only real solution to climate change requires all major emitting nations to join in the solution. While they believe that now is time for America to lead, developing nations like China and Brazil must not lag behind in making their own binding commitments. To develop an effective and equitable global program, Obama and Biden expressed their willingness to reengage with the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) - the main international forum dedicated to addressing the climate problem. They will also invigorate the Major Economies (MEM) effort and bring all the major emitting nations together to develop effective emissions reduction efforts.

President Obama, with his comprehensive New Energy for America plan, seeks to ensure that 10 percent of our electricity comes from renewable energy sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025. What are these clean, renewable and sustainable energy sources? There are four major ones: wind, solar, hydropower and geothermal. These are sustainable sources of energy in the sense that they do not harm the environment by creating greenhouse gases, pollution, or waste for future generations. For one, wind is a renewable source of energy that can be found in every nation. The raw power of the wind can be turned into clean energy and it is infinite. So is solar energy. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), currently, solar thermal devices do everything from heating swimming pools to creating steam for electricity generation.

The idea of installing wind turbines or solar electric panels is no longer a dream exclusive to the advanced industrialized nations. The developing world can afford the new technology with the latest inventions; in fact they will save money with solar and wind solutions.

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