Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Student review of 'The Age of Stupid and links to a few articles related to renewable energy resources
Last week my Geography teacher watched the film The Age of Stupid and suggested that we all watched it as we would have only a limited amount of time to talk about climate change in lessons. She thought it was interesting and so I thought I would watch it and write a short review on the film from a student’s perspective.
The film is set in 2055 with a man who is living alone in a world that has been devastated by climate change. He looks back at the archives of documentaries and news reports (all of which are real) of how environmental changes have altered our lives so far and how our lifestyles have ultimately altered the environment. From the information the archives provide, he asks why didn’t we do something when we had the chance instead of ignoring the glaring signs. The film makes very clear the differences in energy uses across the world by frequently comparing the USA, UK, China, India and Africa and how our desire for resources had led to conflict and, in some regions, poverty. In terms of its relevance to what we are doing at present, the film includes two interesting case studies surrounding different energy resources. One is about the oil industry and its negative impact on the developing world with specific reference to Nigeria. The other explains the problems faced by wind farm developers who try to set up wind farms in the UK and highlights the NIMBY attitude shared by many in this country. The other case studies are also quite interesting as they delve into the reasons behind why people are reluctant to change their ways and how the changes in the environment are impacting on our daily lives. It also explains how climate change is a global issue and so attempts to reduce its impact have to be globally united ones if they are to have any significant effect. Personally I think it is well worth watching and is an easy way to spend 90 minutes if you need to learn more about this issue as the film does not really touch on any new scientific ideas but instead ties in all the basics in a watchable, but still educational, format.
I believe that most AS students have now started working on the energy presentations. Last night I was trying to do some research on my energy resource but was finding it rather tricky to do so and instead kept finding lots of useful articles on some of the other energy resources. I thought that I might include some of them on this blog encase they will be of any use to any other group. Even if they are not, they are still quite an interesting read as they provide an insight into what is happening, in terms of energy, around the world. When I was looking for articles on energy resources the first place I looked was on the National Geographic website and this is the link to their special energy section http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/energy/great-energy-challenge It contains some very up to date information and is particularly good if you are looking for case studies (the majority of them are based in other countries but they still might be useful).
I found this article (http://www.greatenergychallengeblog.com/blog/2011/01/17/kenya-steps-into-solar-future/ ) which explains how the use of solar energy is becoming very popular in Kenya as it is cheap and means that villages don’t have to be connected to a national grid. Solar energy is the biggest form of renewable energy that is being explored in Kenya as not only is it cheap and better for the environment but there are also a lot of health risks associated with the traditionally used kerosene lamps.
Last week, India announced that they were planning to build Asia’s first commercial scale tidal power plant which is to be situated in the Gulf of Kutch and has the potential to generate many economic and environmental benefits for the region. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12215065 Also, October last year, a proposal to build a tidal power plant at Pentland Firth was given the go ahead. This project will involve 400 submersed turbines which have the potential to supply the electricity needs to 400,000 homes. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-11636959 After the scrapping of the Severn barrage; both of these projects provide a huge boost to the world development of tidal energy.
Geothermal energy is another type of renewable energy that is being used across the world. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/news/energy/2010/12/101228-geothermal-energy-pick-up-real-steam- This form of energy currently provides Iceland with 25% of the electricity it consumes. However this source of energy is only most productive in areas which have strong volcanic activity and so cannot be utilised worldwide.
These are just a few of the articles I found (I hope they are of some use) and there are plenty more on the National Geographic website and in other places on the internet. One related article that did catch my eye was this one (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2011/01/110117-100-percent-renewable-energy/ ). This article discusses whether or not we can actually survive on purely ‘green’ energy in the future and the fact that to build enough power stations to enable us to do so would require the use of lots of finite resources. For example, millions of wind turbines would have to be built to allow us to become more reliant on this energy resource. To build these turbines we would need to use a lot of neodymium (used in magnets) and it is estimated that the worldwide production of this mineral would have to quintuple to supply us with the quantity that this project would require.