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Fossil Fuel Versus Solar Power: Where The Line Meets The Circle

2174 words - 9 pages

Fossil Fuel versus Solar Power: Where the Line Meets the Circle

There are a number of benefits to building a house that utilizes direct solar energy as compared to current conventional designs, which are largely powered and heated by energy from fossil fuels. According to a number of estimates, it is actually cheaper in the long term to incorporate solar energy into building design. Solar energy is far cleaner than fossil fuel derived energy, and therefore is far less impacting on the health of humans and the environment. There are a number of innovative technologies that have been developed for nearly every application of solar energy, thus making its use comparably convenient to fossil fuel use, but with greater assurance of long-term dependability.

While it is currently still cheaper to build a home around the theme of fossil fuel power, the cheap supply of this finite resource is rapidly diminishing. The years that are left in which fossil fuels will be accessible to the general public are numbered for certain. One of the factors contributing to the widespread misconception that this is not so is the overestimation of fossil fuel reserves due to varying regulations regarding proved oil reserves among different countries (Campbell & Laherrere, 1998). Problems of this nature have occurred with the former Soviet Union (Campbell & Laherrere, 1998). Another factor is deliberate misrepresentation, which is highly probable in the case of OPEC estimates from 1998, in which three hundred billion barrels of oil were added to OPEC reserve estimates without any accompanying reserve discoveries (Campbell & Laherrere, 1998).

While fossil fuels are a form of stored solar energy and thus finite, direct solar energy can be considered inexhaustible on a human time scale. According to patterns observed in biological records, it is likely that humans will become extinct long before the absence of solar energy could be a concern. With approximately ninety-nine percent of species that have existed on Earth already extinct, it is clear that individual species typically do not exist for an extended period on the geological time scale. (Gould, 2000)

While it is immediately more expensive to incorporate solar design techniques in building a home, once a solar structure is in place it essentially pays for itself. After the initial cost of building and supply, all solar energy sequestered is free of charge, with the exception of periodic maintenance. This seems far more appealing than the ever present and increasing costs associated with fossil fuel dependency.

One further cost especially deserving of mention is the environmental cost associated with fossil fuel use versus that of solar energy sequestration. Through widespread use of fossil fuels humans are responsible for the current global warming event. With the enormous output of carbon dioxide associated with fossil fuel consumption, it is no small wonder that there have been drastic...

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