Among the pressing concerns currently facing the first world nations in particular is the drive to discover and harness safer and better power sources. We have continually refined our methods of generating power over several centuries, and the approaches are getting better. The goal is as it has always been: Find a way to create clean energy, so that waste product is not an issue.
The most ecologically sound way to come up with a power supply is also one of the oldest and most traditional. In many parts of the world, people still rely on the brute muscle of their livestock to do the heavier work. Oxen are teamed together to plow fields, donkeys turn grinding wheels, and in a pinch the most readily available source of work is still the human being who wants the work done.
This approach is great for small communities or homesteads, but it won’t be efficient enough to produce large amounts of electricity. Even a little apartment complex will easily require more power than can possibly be produced by an animal driven plant.
The idea of using coal burning power plants is still very much alive in the United States. Unfortunately, this is one of the dirtiest industries that people have to worry about. Thousands of people die each year in the United States of America following health issues related to the mercury rich pollution spewed out by these stations.
While the generation of power by means of hydroelectric projects is substantially more environmentally sound than coal fired plants are, the paradigm is not without its own problems. Building dams and redistributing water flow can have serious consequences for the local water tables and other water courses. The inherent danger of destroying the habitat of indigenous water animals is also quite high.
A third, more modern option involves the use of nuclear generating stations. Unfortunately, many people oppose nuclear power on paranoid and uneducated grounds. They think that the plant will blow up and ruin everything. They only know the name Chernobyl and not the name Darlington. Nuclear stations hardly ever fail. The actual problem with this sort of generation is that we don’t know what to do with all the highly dangerous radioactive waste.
The two most promising contenders for the crown of ecologically sensitive power generation are wind farming and solar collecting. There is some interest in tidal power generation, but this is obviously only going to be any good in places that have coastal areas.
Trying to build sufficient wind and solar generating centers is not as easy at it might sound. Even though these are environmentally friendly, or as much as they can be, there will always be negative consequences from human development. Migrating birds might be affected by a wind farm, and little indigenous lizards might find themselves out of their food if a photovoltaic array is built. There are always consequences. Luckily, we seem to be at a stage in our development where we recognize this and do our best to minimize any bad outcomes in our search for clean energy.