By Olivia Colangelo

Ever since the 19th century, technological breakthroughs have altered the way people communicate, think, and move. However, the expansion of innovative machinery has expedited environmental atrophy. The human race has become dependent on burning fossil fuels to carry out everyday life – but at what cost?

 Fossil fuels, like oil and coal, appeal to major industries because they are generally cheap and have widespread availability. The excessive burning of fossil fuels fosters Carbon Dioxide emissions, which are currently at an all-time high. Waste energy from fossil fuels is dissipated into the atmosphere and the oceans, primarily as heat.

Carbon Dioxide is a term that has become synonymous with global warming. The disastrous effects of CO2 emissions include an increase in Earth’s surface temperature, rising sea levels, glacial disappearance, and intensified precipitation. Though not all effects can be rectified, eliminating CO2 would gradually reverse these repercussions over the coming centuries.

In hopes of saving our planet, global leaders established the Paris Agreement in December 2015, a treaty that works toward a greener Earth. The primary goals outlined in the treaty include decarbonizing the atmosphere with the help of clean energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, combating climate change, and providing financial aid to countries that strive toward anti-carbon technologies.

Thus far, over 1,000 cities worldwide have initiated the decarbonization process. Densely populated cities, such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen, have taken steps to incentivize residents to reduce their carbon footprint. Utilizing public transport, walking, or biking are optimal ways to avoid traveling in diesel-powered vehicles. However, these substitutes are characterized by climate, age, wellness, and overall convenience, making it an unrealistic expectation. This is where green hydrogen comes into play.

Hydrogen, an adaptable, non-toxic gas, is vital in the process of generating clean energy. It holds the capacity to decarbonize various industries. Before hydrogen is used as a source of renewable energy, it must be produced through electrolysis, a development that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. Electrolysis creates a carbon-free fuel known as “green hydrogen.” The only downside – creating green hydrogen costs 3-4 times more than traditional methods. Nonetheless, green hydrogen is used to power cars, ships, and aircraft, making it an ideal alternative to petroleum gas. In addition, green hydrogen has the ability to manufacture steel, glass, and plastics as well as provide heat for buildings and homes. 

As for rural areas, wind turbines have become increasingly popular. The blades on a wind turbine work to transform kinetic energy into clean electricity. Our rapidly modernizing world has become dependent on electric power for lighting, entertainment applications, and vehicle power. The average American household uses roughly 10,800 kWh of electricity per year, so a clean power source would drastically reduce toxins.

By 2035, the U.S. vows to eradicate all carbon-producing technology. To help achieve this promise, scientists have turned to renewable energy sources, which include nuclear energy, hydroelectric power, biomass, geothermal power, wind, and solar energy. Renewable energy derives from unlimited resources that can be quickly replenished. Aside from wind turbines, emerging technologies include solar panels and wave energy converters. The energy used to power these innovations is obtained from the sun and ocean waves, natural resources with a bottomless supply.