What are the pros and cons of energy conservation?

The term energy conservation in the field of environmental studies refers to efficiently and frugally consuming energy to reduce the burden of fossil fuel burning on the environment. Even though we are living in the age of incredible technological innovation, fossil fuels still provide 80% of the world’s total energy. 

One of the biggest challenges of our generation is to find ways to reduce fossil fuel emissions if we want to mitigate the catastrophic effects of climate change. Climate change is already wreaking havoc in many countries as we speak. Coastal storms are getting more intense and frequent, flooding is a major issue in many countries now more than ever before, sea levels are rising and thousands of acres of arable land is over salinated now, making most crops incapable of growing in them. 

Most governments and many private organizations have been campaigning for people to conserve energy, many laws have been passed prompting industries to reduce their carbon footprint and implement energy-saving production means. 

The dark truth, however, is that no number of energy conservation tactics will be fruitful unless we can successfully switch to sustainable energy production. Sustainable energy sources do come with their baggage however, there are certain issues we must address before we make the switch. 

This article will discuss the limitations of energy conservation, how promising sustainable energy is, and what factors we must address before we switch to a sustainable energy source. 

What are the pros and cons of energy conservation?

The main problem with energy conservation is that it’s expensive, and the best part of it is that it reduces fossil fuel consumption. The mantra that, “we must conserve energy for a greener, more prosperous future” pervades most of our minds. This is correct in many aspects. If we consume less energy, then less fossil fuel will be burnt, that’s the consensus. 

Advantages of conserving energy: 

As I have mentioned before, around 80% of our net energy consumption is generated by fossil fuels. This means, the more energy we save, directly translates to burning fewer fossil fuels. Fossil fuels can be either crude oil, natural gas, or coal. 

There are degrees in the quality of fossil fuels as well, natural gas for example is cleaner in terms of pollutants it creates compared to coal or crude petroleum. 

Nevertheless, they all emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is the main greenhouse gas that is causing the global temperature to rise and the glaciers to melt, which in turn is raising the sea levels. 

While we invest more and more into sustainable energy, we need to continue to push for better regulations that prompt both the public and the industry to reduce their carbon footprint by conserving energy. 

Energy conservation also saves money in the long term, fossil fuels cost money to buy. Most countries do not even have their fossil fuel reserves, which means they need to import these resources from other countries. Saving energy reduces the cost of fossil fuel imports for most countries. 

Disadvantages of energy conservation: 

It may sound paradoxical at first, how can there be disadvantages to saving energy? Much like everything else in life energy conservation has nuances. There are two disadvantages to energy conservation, it can be costly to set up, and it can distract us from more severe issues.

Energy-saving technology now floods the market. There are energy-saving light bulbs, energy-saving fridges, energy-saving washing machines, and many, many more energy-saving items. 

These are certainly more friendly for the environment and far more energy-efficient, however, these are more expensive. This initial barrier can be an obstacle for many to make a switch to a more energy-saving lifestyle. Despite the cost barrier, it is well worth it to make the switch though. It will certainly save money in the long run since it will consume less energy and your electricity bill will be comparatively less than it was before. 

The more serious disadvantage of energy conservation is that it sometimes distracts us from the real problem. Oftentimes we make a  switch to a more energy-saving lifestyle and become content. This is a problem because we are still burning fossil fuels, we may be burning less than before, but for a green future, we need to mitigate the damages fossil fuel burning has caused over the past decades. The only way we can do that is if we drastically reduce our carbon emissions. 

We can make these drastic changes if we simply switch to a more energy-saving lifestyle. We need to push for the set up of sustainable energy sources to power our homes, offices, and industries. 

What is sustainable energy? 

Sustainable energy sources include solar, tidal, geothermal, wind, hydropower, biomass, hydrogen, etc. These are far better sources of energy, and the best part is that they are renewable, unlike fossil fuels or nuclear energy. Renewable energy is not without pitfalls though, there are advantages and disadvantages involved with them. 

Advantages of sustainable energy: 

  • Reduces carbon emissions 
  • Is replenishable 
  • Creates job opportunities
  • Reduces air and water pollution
  • Saves money in the long term
  • Creates some level of energy autonomy for countries without fossil fuels
  • Reduces waste 
  • Environmentally friendlier than fossil fuels

The main advantages of sustainable energy are that they reduce carbon emission drastically, they are friendlier for the environment, and they are replenishable. 

Disadvantages of sustainable energy: 

  • Intermittent
  • High initial cost
  • Geographical limitations
  • Difficult to store
  • Poor regulation leads to loss of biodiversity

The main limitation of sustainable energy is that it cannot be stored. This is a problem. Take solar for example, the Sun will eventually set, and with it will go the energy source. Without proper batteries, it is impossible to make a complete switch to solar. The same goes for renewable energy sources. Wind, tidal, geothermal, all-cause fluctuations in energy production. 

Biomass has the potential to be more steady the way fossil fuels are, but the problem is in producing enough to power industries. 

The main problem with sustainable energy is the loss of biodiversity it brings about when it is poorly regulated. A study performed by researchers at the University of Queensland found that most renewable energy plants are built in biodiverse areas and these cause a significant loss in biodiversity. The study mapped around 2000 plants that were built on protected land. 

Moreover, giant wind turbines built in biodiverse lands can cause significant loss of birds and bats due to the giant propellers.

Sustainable energy is certainly the future, there is no doubt about it. These disadvantages are merely issues brought up to be addressed and resolved. 

There is no doubt that we need to minimize our fossil fuel consumption if we want to mitigate the effects of climate change. Climate change is an existential threat to us, and the planet as we know it, and we need to do everything we can now before it is too late. 

Conclusion: 

Most governments and many private organizations have been campaigning for people to conserve energy, many laws have been passed prompting industries to reduce their carbon footprint and implement energy-saving production means. 

The dark truth, however, is that no number of energy conservation tactics will be fruitful unless we can successfully switch to sustainable energy production. Sustainable energy sources do come with their baggage however, there are certain issues we must address before we make the switch. 

This article discusses the limitations of energy conservation, how promising sustainable energy is, and what factors we must address before we switch to a sustainable energy source. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Pros and cons of energy conservation

How can we conserve energy? 

You can switch to more energy-efficient appliances, turn off the lights when you leave a room, turn down heating when you’re not in the house, and conserve water. There are many other ways to conserve energy, you’ll find many examples on the internet. 

What are the pros of energy conservation? 

Pros involve reduced carbon emissions due to saving energy, saving money in the long run, and less pollution. 

What are the cons of energy conservation? 

Cons include the high cost of installation and complacency regarding making a switch to sustainable energy sources. 

What is sustainable energy? 

Sustainable energy is energy produced from sources that are replenishable and is damaging to the environment. 

What are the pros of sustainable energy? 

Sustainable energy installation creates jobs, reduces pollution, reduces carbon emissions, saves money in the long run, improves air and water quality, among many other benefits. 

What are the cons of sustainable energy?

It has a high upfront cost, can depend on uncontrollable factors, is hard to store, is hard to transport, depends on the geographical location, and can be harmful to wildlife if not regulated properly.  

References: 

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