So, what’s the latest trend in energy sources these days? The use of geothermal energy is heating up all over the United States. In just 2011 the industry was heating areas in 9 states and had projects in 15 states. Geothermal energy uses the heat from the Earth’s crust to provide energy with low CO2 emissions (clean energy). Other than having low CO2 emissions, it is also a renewable resource and except for the expenses of building the pumps to access the heat, it’s fairly inexpensive. So why not hop on the steam engine to success? California seems to be “full steam ahead” but is it really? This NPR article talks about California being on board to converting their energy sources by 2020 to all renewable sources but it seems that the geysers they’ve been tapping for steam are running out.
Photo: California Geysers located in Mayacamas Mountains, San Fransisco, CA are part of the first geothermal energy plant. Here, workers are trying to repair the 50 year old site. Click here to learn more about The Geysers.
Their solution is to drill down into the Earth’s crust where the temperature is around 500 degrees and use that heat, but of course it can’t be that easy. Building geothermal energy facilities can not only be expensive, but can cause minor earthquakes too. Eventually the AltaRockgroup, a company that leads in energy production and technology for geothermal energy, gave up at sites in California and moved on to try Oregon.
In Oregon, geothermal energy developers plan to pump water into a dormant volcano for energy. Read about this plan here!
This short clip can give you an idea of what the scientists had in mind regarding the volcano in Oregon (on a much greater level of course)At the Timanfaya National Park, water was poured into a bore hole that heated the water and shot it back out.
The United States aren’t the only ones trying to lower their carbon footprint and use geothermal energy. Here’s a 2minute video talking about Canada’s plans regarding geothermal energy.
As you can see, geothermal energy has become quite a hot topic recently and it is predicted to become an even bigger project in the future.
So we debated recycling. Is it good for the environment? Is it bad for the environment? It’s a decision that each of us have to make, what’s your decision?
Here are some points people made that may help you decide, or at least help you understand each point of view.
Pros for Recycling
Landfills are harmful. You’re putting non-biodegradable substances into the ground and you can’t guarantee the safety of the landfill as methane is created. Methane is a greenhouse gas and contributes to climate change.
Landfills are not cheap, and though they reduce the problems of pollution and toxins, they are still toxic.
Leachate has to be treated which costs a lot of money and puts pressure on sewage treatment plants.
36% of all methane emissions in the US are from landfills (which is a large percent). This greenhouse gas is released into the atmosphere, a global commons, and isn’t just isolated to above were the landfill is.
Urban smog created by the release of methane can affect the health of people and the environment in a negative way.
Water wasted recycling paper is the same amount that is wasted processing leachate from the landfills.
Incinerators are more expensive than recycling programs.
- Tree Farms
Recycling paper should be done because tree farms may provide paper but they do not replace the biodiversity of a forest.
+ Benefits of Recycling
The real benefit of recycling is reusing materials to avoid further harm to the environment from extracting raw materials.
Recycling programs create jobs in the collecting and reprocessing process.
There is plenty of room on the planet for landfills.
They are safe so there is really no reason to recycle.
Methane and Leachate from Landfills are regulated. Methane is used to create energy for the community.
Landfills aren’t particularly expensive because most of them are built where not a lot of people.
The amount of methane that is released by the landfills is a minor addition in comparison to farming and other things. With emissions coming from recycling trucks and recycling centers, you’re not cutting all of the emissions out.
Can provide jobs and bring money into rural areas.
+ Tree Farms
There are more trees then there have been before. Trees are being rejuvenated and he lumbering provides jobs.
Recycling is economically detrimental,resulting in loss of jobs in lumbering, working at landfills, and others.
Paper recycling wastes a significant amount of water.
My mom sent me this video, mostly because my dad is in it, but also it talks about an affordable housing complex that the Affordable Housing Group and other groups in Charlotte have been working on. It shows how Charlotte is working towards more sustainability, even with it’s affordable housing.
Today we talked about climate variety and 4 of 5 factors that determine it.
1. Unequal Heating of the Earth’s Surface
A. The Earth is a sphere so as the angle of the impact of light increases, the amount of energy per meter squared that reaches the surface decreases.
B. The Earth is a sphere so as the angle of the impact of light is closer to 90 degrees (directness), the amount of energy per meter squared increases.
Tucker and Mr. Willard illustrated the temperature difference in the poles, temperate zone, and the equator.
C. As Albedo/Reflectivity increases, the amount of energy absorbed decreases and vice versa.
D. There is an unequal distribution of land and sea. Land and sea have different absorbing properties. Water heats slower and holds heat energy longer while soil heats faster and holds heats energy for a shorter amount of time.
As air heats up, its volume increases and density decreases. Therefore, the air rises. As the air rises it cools so its volume decreases and density increases causing the air to sink. The process of heating and cooling causes winds.
Here are 2 videos demonstrating the effect.
3. Earth’s Rotation causes the Coriolis Effect.
The Coriolis Effect is the deflection of an object’s path (wind) due to the Earth’s rotation. So the wind is going straight but the earth is turning, which produces “Global Prevailing Winds”.
Coriolis Effect Demonstration on YouTube
Example of the Coriolis Effect in the Northern Hemisphere versus the Southern Hemisphere on Youtube
4. Earth’s tilt and Orbit affects the number of seasons and the type of season.
The Earth is tilted at 23.5 degrees and because of this, as the Earth revolves around the sun, it gets different amounts of energy across its surface. The Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere receive different amounts of sunlight during different times of the year due to the tilt of the Earth, and therefore they have different seasons.
Here is a video explaning how the Earth has seasons on Youtube
Also, due to the amount of sunlight different areas of the globe receive throughout the year, the number of seasons that each area has varies.
The poles only have 2 seasons because half of the year the earth is angled so one of the poles is facing almost directly at the sun and the other is facing completely away. During the other half of the year it’s vice versa.
The temprate zones have 4 seasons because they are not as directly in the sun or out of the sun as the poles are.
And finally, the tropics have only one season because they are receiving almost direct sunlight all year long.
Tate and Christina illustrate the rotation and angle of the earth in respect to the sun.
So I understand that a standing crop is the amount of energy in a system at a given time while productivity is the rate of energy production over a given time but I was wondering if someone could re-word the statements so I could more readily understand what each of those terms means.
I think that the biggest, or one of the biggest, environmental problems that we face today is water pollution. I say water pollution because of how connected water is to ecological systems. A lot of life is sustained with water. Water hydrates plants and animals, but it also provides sanctuary for millions of different organisms. Furthermore, the organisms that live in the water are consumers but also producers. For example, water provides habitat for plants that feed crayfish that feed small mammals, or birds, that feed larger mammals, and so on and so forth. When the water is filled with chemicals or trash it can cause algae blooms that cut off oxygen and sunlight in the water, it can choke off waterways, it can increase the population of a harmful species, it can kill beneficial species, et cetera. When those organisms are dying because of different causes, the organisms that consume them now have a hole in their diet, and it’s a chain reaction. The falling domino effect.