Skip to content

alternative energy pdf

Beavers build dams. Just as apple trees bud and flower as part of making their way to leafing and, eventually, bearing fruit, a beaver needs to control the waters that flow around the landscape in which it resides. In the colonial New England of the 1700s, among other locales, when hunters reduced the population noticeably, the beavers’ absence was reflected by the region’s rivers and streams, which were marked by intensified runoff and flooding. Beneath the Earth’s crust, earthworms aerate dirt. The soil’s health and its content of specific nutrients can be traced to the preponderance of earthworms. In bays and wetlands, oysters filter water. Their decline in brackish locales such as the Chesapeake Bay directly impacts the overall water quality of the estuary.

These are just a few examples of the dynamic interchange going on all around us, between humans and the natural environment in which we reside. As humans, we often hope that we are exempt from such patterns and the restraints that they can demand. We have spent generations seeking to prove the exceptional quality of our species. By using technological innovation, humans have been able to overcome many natural constraints. Particularly in the United States, we have even been able to employ fabulous examples of engineering innovation to mitigate one of the most dramatic changes in human life over the last few centuries: population growth.

Particularly in the American system of capitalism, accommodating population growth has gone hand in hand with economic development. For some, the outcome of such effort has been great profit. For most, the outcome has been a stable, middle-class existence at a remarkably high standard of living (relative to other nations). An overarching priority in this society was on doing things. We realized that if we concentrated our technologies on achieving things, such as making cars or electricity, the market would allow consumers to eventually reap the benefits as well.

Today, a host of issues and complexities demand that we focus our spirit
even more minutely not just on doing things, but on creating innovations
that help us to do things well. What, though, does it mean to do something
well? Ultimately, this book will suggest that the response must be one that
takes into consideration the constraints of nature.

We must not forget that the beavers, earthworms, and oysters do not forget their role in larger patterns and systems. They neither exceed their duties nor forget to carry them out. Therefore, our approach to comprehending this transition in American life begins with the reality that humans require energy—a necessity for accomplishing the things that we need to; however, this is not the end of our deliberations. The need to do these things well means that our question does not stop with just the necessary energy to complete the task. Instead, our line of inquiry must expand to include issues such as how to continue to create profit and development while also using methods that do little or no injury to humans, and that can be sustainably used in the future.
Judged by such astandard, not all sources of energy are created equal.