use is fundamental to human civilisation. The
future of human society depends on the continuing
availability of energy. We need it to grow our
food, provide our transport and to generate electricity
to power our machines and homes. We all use electricity,
yet few of us stop to think how it is generated,
or how it affects our environment.
the industrialised world we depend on fossil fuels
for the bulk of energy needs. As world population
continues to grow and the poorer nations of the
world strive to catch up and close the gap with
wealthy nations, the demand for energy grows too.
This has two major implications for mankind:
Fossil fuels will one day run out
The threat of global warming and climate change
which results from the burning of these fossil
energy use by developing countries is now overtaking
that of OECD countries and is set to double in
the next 10 years. India and China will be major
deployers of coal - fired power stations. China,
for example needs to bring about 1000 MW of capacity
online to cope with increased demand for power.
is imperative that we find alternative, clean
sources of energy, coupled with energy efficiency
measures to reduce our dependency of coal, oil
and gas. Renewable energy sources can help us
achieve a more sustainable energy future.
warming is the build-up of heat in the earth's
atmosphere, rather like the sun heats up a green
house. In the atmosphere, the build-up of gases
such as carbon dioxide and methane act like glass
in a greenhouse - these are called 'greenhouse
gases'. The burning of fossil fuels is a major
source of carbon dioxide.
much uncertainty remains as to The speed and effects
of global warming, It is now generally accepted
that it is happening. Unless checked, its consequences
are likely to be severe - major sea level rise
and flooding of coastal and low lying areas, erratic
and severe climate, disruption of agriculture
and ecosystems, and the spread of disease.