Thursday, July 24, 2014

Three Ways to Reduce Our Carbon Footprint Naturally

Three Ways to Reduce Our Carbon Footprint Naturally
The need to reduce our global carbon footprint has steadily become more and more important due to climate change.  There are various industrial techniques used to capture and store carbon.  However, there are also many natural ways to capture and store carbon without the need for complex technologies.  Many of these techniques, especially when applied on a large scale, are effective techniques that work seamlessly with the environment.
Saltwater marshlands create an important ecosystem for various forms of wildlife.  These marshlands can be found alongside rivers and shorelines.  Marshlands are also prodigious in the task of carbon capturing.  Instead of the carbon remaining in the atmosphere where it is a greenhouse gas, carbon is captured from the air and then naturally transferred into the soil.
Planting a new forest, or replanting a location that was clear cut for the timber industry, is an effective method of restoring habitat while creating a natural carbon sink.  Unlike more mature forests, new forests require more carbon during their initial growth years.  While this effect will eventually slow as these trees become older, the overall impact on the environment and the wildlife is essential for a healthy planet.
Weeds, or otherwise undesirable plants, can also be another natural method to capture excess carbon from the environment.  Unlike most domesticated plants, weeds can thrive in intense sunlight, high temperatures, and elevated levels of carbon dioxide.  Weeds also help to stabilize the surrounding soil with their deep roots.  This stabilized soil creates the type of habitat and micro-climates that are beneficial to the growth of small seedlings.
When all three of these concepts are performed in concert they can have a lasting positive impact on the health of the environment.  No one carbon capture technique will effective on its own.  There has to be a concerted effort on all nations to work towards environmentally friendly and cost effective carbon capture methods.  The negative effects of climate change can be avoided if these nations collaborate with each other sooner rather than later.

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Friday, July 4, 2014

Geothermal Energy - The Untapped Power

Geothermal Energy - The Untapped Power
Geothermal energy is the natural heat energy stored with in the Earth.  Geothermal plants generate electricity by utilizing the steam of super-heated ground water to drive turbines within the power plant facility.  Most geothermal sites in the United States are located in Alaska, Oregon, California, Idaho, Utah, and Nevada.  Unlike the western states, there are few viable locations for geothermal power generation on the east coast.
The most obvious benefit to using geothermal is that it is a renewable energy source.  Unlike fossil fuels, geothermal energy does not have a carbon footprint.  All of the heat energy needed to run the facility occurs naturally within the Earth.  Also, geothermal plants have a minimal impact on the environment because the steam, which later condenses into water, is cycled back into the Earth.  If maintained well, geothermal site can create power for decades.
There are also some dangers associated with geothermal energy.  For instance, trace amounts of poisonous gas can escape while steam energy is extracted out of a natural spring.  Though these small amounts are relatively harmless, it is still important to note that this can occur.  Also, the hot spring can become depleted if water is not cycled back into the reservoir of the spring.  A sink hole can occur if enough water is displaced from the well.  Managed well, the vast majority of geothermal power plants can avoid all of these issues.
The current focus on energy independence and lower carbon emissions has created the necessity for environmentally friendly energy solutions.  To make geothermal power more prevalent across the world creative applications of current technologies must be put in place.  For example, the same deep drilling techniques that are used for fracking can be utilized to find geothermal springs.  Once drilled, a single geothermal plant can tap multiple hot springs simultaneously and reduce the dependence on fossil fuels.  Coupled with a more efficient electrical grid, there is a strong chance that this energy can be generated and transmitted with little environmental impact.