Geothermal Energy: The Alternative of the Future
When the energy crisis hit Americans in the 1970's, people were scrambling to find ways to conserve energy. The crisis brought to attention the very real shortage of fossil fuels. Gas and oil prices skyrocketed, and Americans looked for ways to save energy. They started producing smaller cars, driving less, and turning down their thermostats. Also, they started to examine alternate energy sources, such as solar, geothermal, and biomass. For a while, Americans were making a conscious effort to cut back on the use of fossil fuels. However, when gas and oil prices started to go back down in the early eighties, many of the conservation ideas were forgotten. In the minds of most Americans, the energy crisis had been solved because they could now afford to use fossil fuels again.
Looking into the next century, we can see energy shortage problems starting to resurface. The possibility of another energy crisis is very real; however, this one will be different. It will not be a matter of fossil fuels being too expensive, it will be a matter of fossil fuels no longer being a resource. Our gas-powered cars, factories, and heating systems are using fossil fuels much faster than the dinosaurs are turning to coal. The way things are going now, we won't make it through the next century before running out of our fossil fuels.
The problems with fossil fuels go beyond their rapid depletion. The pollution from burning fossil fuels is really taking a toll on the environmentand the atmosphere. Factories in the United States spend millions of dollars on filtration systems to try and cut down on the amount of harmful emissions, yet the environment just isn't getting better. Converting fossil fuels to energy is a large contributor to the problem. Besides the fact that fossil fuels are ruining our surroundings, their availability is always questionable. Currently, the U.S. buys most of its oil from Middle Eastern countries. What happens if our foreign trade with the Middle East does not hold up? The unstable foreign trade lead to the energy crisis of the 1970's, and it could happen again without much warning. A glimpse of this could be seen during the Desert Storm conflict, when oil prices went up. In a more serious situation, the U.S. is stuck without an energy source.
These are major problems that need to be addressed, before suddenly we are without energy. We are not saying that we need to ban the use of fossil fuels, maybe we need to just start looking seriously into alternate energy sources. The most obvious source right now seems to be solar energy; however, there is another renewable resource that many people might not know about. Geothermal energy is a resource that does not harm the environment, and is not dependent on foreign trade ("Geothermal Heat Increases," 1998). No fuel is burned when the plants are operated. This cuts down on the amount of carbon dioxide and other gases formed during the...