Why is changing our energy use important?

At the moment, the vast major­ity of the energy we in the UK depend on in our daily lives is pro­duced from fossil fuels; in 2008 the pro­por­tion gen­er­ated from non-renew­able sources was 94.5% accord­ing to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change. This is not sustainable.

There are three prob­lems asso­ci­ated with gen­er­at­ing energy from fossil fuels, and these are linked to each other:

  1. Climate Change: it is now the con­sensus of the major­ity of lead­ing cli­mate sci­ent­ists that our use of fossil fuels to gen­er­ate heat and power is lead­ing to changes in the cli­mate, and that there will be dis­astrous con­sequences for human­kind if this con­tin­ues at its cur­rent rate.
  2. Other envir­on­ment­al impacts: the pro­cess of extract­ing, refin­ing and trans­port­ing oil and oth­er fossil fuels can have huge impacts on the sur­round­ing envir­on­ment. For example, the major oil spill at the BP Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico on 20th April 2010 decim­ated mar­ine and coastal eco­sys­tems through­out the area.
  3. Peak Oil, peak gas and energy secur­ity: Many experts are con­vinced that the max­im­um rate of glob­al oil extrac­tion has now been passed, or will pass soon. This will mean an end to cheap and plen­ti­ful oil in the near future, res­ult­ing in hikes in oil prices and the price of goods made and trans­por­ted using oil. Peak gas may not be far away either. These trends in energy avail­ab­il­ity could also res­ult in more wars in areas that are rich in fossil fuels.

To meet our energy needs into the future, and avoid cata­stroph­ic cli­mate change, it is now clear that as a soci­ety we must both reduce the amount of energy we use and increase the amount of energy gen­er­ated from renew­able sources.

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