Alternative Energy, The New Standard?

Alternative Energy, The New Standard?

As the need for other sources of energy becomes more pressing, what do we do?

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In grade school, you probably learned about renewable and non-renewable sources of energy. The non-renewable ones consisting of mainly fossil fuels and the renewable consisting of wood or some other type that can easily be replaced.

As more and more people become consumers of coal, oil and natural gas, the United States slowly became less reliant on wood for an energy source.

Up until about the mid-1800s, wood supplied nearly all of the nation's energy needs. Today, much of the use of renewable energy is increasing, mainly those such as wind and solar. Why is this happening? Well, unlike fossil fuels the renewables regenerate.

What is alternative energy? Alternative energy is ANY energy source that is an alternative to fossil fuel. This includes anything from solar power to hydro and oceanic power that can address the concerns that are put out by fossil fuels. By switching to these we can ensure a safe and habitable planet for future generations.

What do you think of when you hear alternative energy? Is it clean? Renewable? Many people assume both those things but they also feel that it may not be the most cost-effective. Which is true right now. Even so, alternative energy is still the answer.

10¹⁶ watts - which is roughly about the amount of energy that can be harnessed from the solar radiation that falls on a planet from its parent star or a Type 1 on the Kardashev Scale.

So where does that put us in today's settings?

Well, currently we are at 0.73 on the Kardashev scale. This means that while we are most likely going to be a Type 1 that is, if we keep burning fossil fuels. This is why alternative energy is so important.

So now that we know this, the best way to reach a Type 1 status is to rely on the sun for most of our energy, if not all. of course, this isn't the only good source of renewable energy. However, with solar come the problem of reliability. What do you do on the days that aren't sunny or are windy and rainy? Well, we could always go back to coal and oil, or follow California's example of overproducing and then storing energy that isn't used for a later date.

And Solar isn't the only option out there. These several others including hydro and wind energy.

One of the major advantages of alternative or renewable energy includes that it is renewable (and while it is possible), the chances of running out of it completely are slim.

The disadvantage? It is harder to produce higher amounts of energy that is produced by the burning of fossil fuels. This means either we need to reduce the amount that we use or build more energy producing centers or balancing many different power sources.

The sooner we get better about investing in other and cleaner energies, the sooner we will be able to see the benefits of it, whether that be in the future or now.

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Does Technology Make Us More Alone?

Technology -- we all love it and we all use it, but how is it affecting us?
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In this day and age, it is near impossible to do anything without the use of technology. You can pay your bills, manage your bank accounts and even chat with a customer service representative all with the use of your smartphone.

Is the use of technology starting to take away from our person-to-person interaction? Think about how often you grab your smartphone or tablet and text your friends instead of picking up the phone to call them or, better yet, making plans to hang out in person.

Technology is supposed to make us feel more connected by allowing us to stay in touch with our friends by using social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter and of course, texting. But are our smartphones getting in the way of socializing? Does technology make us feel more alone?

There is a term that is commonly used, "FOMO" –– short for "fear of missing out." Yes, this is a real thing. If for some crazy reason you don't check your Twitter or Facebook news feed every 10 minutes are you really missing out?

The fact that we have become so dependent on knowing exactly what is going on in other people's lives is sad. We should be focusing on our own lives and our own interactions and relationships with people.

Technology is making us more alone because instead of interacting with our friends in person, we are dependent on using our phones or tablets. We start to compare ourselves and our lives to others because of how many likes we get on our Instagram photos.

We are forgetting how to use our basic communication skills because we aren't interacting with each other, anymore. We are too busy with our noses in our phones. Young kids are dependent on a tablet to keep them entertained rather than playing with toys. That is not how I want my children to grow up.

As a society, we will start to become very lonely people if we don't start making changes. We are ruining personal relationships because of the addiction to our smartphones and checking our social media sites every five minutes.

It's time for us to own our mistakes and start to change. Next time you reach for your phone, stop yourself. When you are with your friends, ignore your phone and enjoy the company of your loved ones around you.

Technology is a great thing, but it is also going to be the thing that tears us apart as a society if we don't make changes on how dependent we are on it.

Cover Image Credit: NewsOK

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Houston, Let's Not Forget Harvey

Harvey had an impact that went beyond floodwaters.

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Almost exactly a year ago, Houston was victim to Hurricane Harvey's torrential storming and flooding. A year later, recovery has been swift but not complete. Some areas still bear the brunt of Harvey's damage—and some losses, of course, can never be made up.

Harvey taught us, as Houstonians, more about ourselves and each other than we've bothered to know in a long, long time. I live in a neighborhood where I'm lucky if I ever manage to catch a glimpse of my next-door neighbor, let alone have some attempt at a conversation with them.

I remember though, when Harvey hit, how everyone would be out, surveying the water levels, asking each other for the latest updates and evacuation possibilities, and checking in to make sure everyone was all right. It made me understand what being a member of a community can truly be like.

It was also a wonder seeing how much compassion and mercy were still present in people; recovery could have been delayed for much longer without the help of every single person who pitched in. I'm not just talking about immediate relief like providing boating services to shelters and providing food and supplies to evacuees stuck at said shelters.

Even the rebuilding that began weeks later and is still ongoing was supported by people's lives, times, wallets and hearts. Spending weekends helping clean out residential areas and hosting food drives for the homeless became the norm, and volunteer lists overflowed with the number of people who were willing to come out and lend a hand.

Today, I remember Harvey and I realize that it marked a trying period for the city. Lives were lost and many people lost many invaluable things; some people are still trying to recover from the impacts of the hurricane.

Recently, the Carolinas were hit by Florence, a tropical storm that seemed like nature's attempt of irony after Harvey.

Thankfully, meteorologists were able to provide timely enough weather updates that the inhabitants of the worst affected areas were able to evacuate to a safer location before the storm hit. Even with about a million people being told to clear evacuation zones though, almost fifteen people still died and many hundreds were rescued by air and water.

Right now, many people in those areas are in the same position our community was in a year ago; many watched the hurricane take away everything they had ever known and loved, and are in the critical process of rebuilding in the aftermath of the hurricane.

We are proud Houstonians, but what Harvey showed was that we were also proud citizens and very, very human. So Houston, let's take this opportunity to remember Harvey not only for what it took from us but also what we gained from it.

Let's show that we remember and have felt the pain of being left with nothing and feeling broken and helpless.

With our support, whether monetary or material, let us show the victims of Florence that as long as there is humanity, there is hope.

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