The paper "Global Energy Consumption" is a worthy example of a research paper on environmental studies.
There are important factors that underscore the restrictions on the availability of fossil fuels. The world’s largest oil fields, for instance, were all discovered more than 50 years ago and that since the 1960s annual oil discoveries have decreased tangentially. Furthermore, according to Yogi Goswami, since 1980 annual consumption has exceeded annual new discoveries and 75 percent of the oil has already been discovered. (p. 9) From these factors, it is clear that fossil fuel can be exhausted in the foreseeable future and so it must be conserved for the coming generations. In addition, because of this fossil fuels may become more expensive as they are being depleted.
Another restriction on the availability of fossil fuels is the global response to pollution and global warming concerns. At present, the United States is very vigorous in pursuing a policy that would lessen fossil fuel use. The greenhouse emission from fossil fuel consumption has generated considerable damage to the environment and that more and more groups are pressuring governments to solve the dilemma by looking for alternative energy and the regulation of fossil fuel consumption. There are also other factors such as security, market movements, production capacity that affect the supply and demand, among other factors. These either individually or collectively, determine the supply, availability, and price of fossil fuel.
Solar energy is huge and that this resource does not have clear limits. However, the problem is that solar energy is diluted. So far, there are three methods in its obtainment: first is through enhanced absorption of solar energy in collectors, which provide low-grade heat; second, by using reflecting devices to concentrate the solar energy in a heat carrier, which is then used to generate electricity; and, third, by converting sunlight directly into electricity. (Afgan and Carvalho 2000, p. 41)
Another method, which is currently being developed, is the use of the ocean for solar energy extraction. This operates around the principle that oceans are tremendous storehouses of solar energy because of the temperature differences produced by the sun as well as the kinetic energy stored in the waves. Goswami and Kreider (2000), however, stressed that putting this energy-conversion method into practice requires the development of efficient and cheap heat exchangers that can withstand the rough marine conditions. (p. 4)
In 2006, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the very first comprehensive program of regulatory and market mechanisms with the aim of achieving real, quantifiable, cost-effective reductions of greenhouse gases. The landmark legislation called AB 32 plans to reduce greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020 – a 25 percent reduction – and 80 percent below 1990 by 2050. (Office of the Governor 2006)
One of the important elements of the law is the requirement for the California Air Resources Board to create regulations and mechanisms that will reduce California’s greenhouse emissions. One of the initiatives is the enforcement of mandatory caps in 2012 for significant sources, continuing until it achieves its 2020 objectives.
According to the Energy Information Administration, the global energy consumption will reach 508 quadrillions Btu this 2010. The United States comprises the bulk of this as it will consume 99.9 quadrillions Btu. This chunk comprises about 19 percent of the global consumption. China’s energy consumption, on the other hand, reached 67 quadrillions Btu, claiming 13 percent of the global energy consumption.
The contrast between the energy consumption of the US and China is not reflected in the current number but the rate of consumption in the past decade and in the near future. While the US consumes significantly more than China today, the figure is projected to become even by 2020. (IEA) The reason for the slowdown in US demands will come in the wake of the transition from manufacturing to a service economy. China, on the other hand, is experiencing rapid industrialization, hence, its humungous energy requirements.
Air pollution is directly related to energy consumption. For example, in China, which is currently the second biggest energy consumer, coal is the main fuel for its industries. Studies directly linked coal emissions to anthropogenic air pollution emissions in Chinese cities. (Yu 2004, p. 17) The use of fossil fuel also increased the use of motor vehicles in the country, which raised the ambient pollution by carbon dioxide, NOx and related pollutants in large cities. Starting from the 1990s, some Chinese megacities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenyang, and Guangzhou, were always listed among the top 10 most polluted cities in the world. (Yu, p. 10)