**Group 11: Fossil Fuels and Sustainable Energy**

Group Introduction

Energy makes the world go around! Consider the conventional morning experience: energy to power our alarm clock, energy to heat milk for our cereal, energy to heat our home on cold winter mornings or air-conditioning to cool our homes on hot summer mornings, energy from the hair dryer to shape our fibrous hair , energy to fuel our vehicles that take us to work we make money to pay for our energy requirements.Yes, the world does rely on the conventions of energy. But for how long, how far and how wide do the extremities of energy consumption go? Not as far as we would expect, not even as far as 50 years we if we progress with the deadly double "ff" i.e fossil fuels. The use of fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal are being consumed by the global environment to meet the highly demanding energy needs of our society. As countries develop, the consumption of energy, primarily fossil fuels, continues to increase. The combustion of fossil fuel is the leading cause of harmful greenhouse gas emissions - this is a worldwide concern. Fossil fuels create pollution, and by continually using them, we are damaging the planet. There is a finite amount of fossil fuel on the earth and if the Earth's sources of fossil fuels were to suddenly run out, our civilization would tumble into chaos. Is there a solution? Yes, forms of renewable energy such as wind power, solar, power, hydro power already exist to the use of oue "flat planet" inhabitants, we just need to develop them and realize the importance of their succes in protecting the environment and sufficiently sustaining the energy needs of the future. Come with us on this educational and social awareness journey as Nikhil Farias and Connor Gamble from Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School, Oakville, Canada and Anthony Vella and Michael Sacco from Richard Challoner Catholic Secondary School, New Malden, England inform, entertain and persuade you of the affects of Fossil Fuels on the environment and the need for their reduction as well as the integration and development of sustainable/renewable energy in the environment. In this project, we hope to inform you about the history, positive and negative impacts of fossil fuels, the Catholic perspective on this subject, international
agreements and potential solutions to fossil fuels and the uses of sustainable energy forms in Canada and the UK. Yes, we are all weighed by the "law of conservation of energy" as we compete globally for stringent energy supplies fuelled by fossil fuels, but let us offer insight into renewable energy and the benefits it will offer not only for this generation, but for the many that will follow.
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1. Fossil Fuels

1.1 Historical and Scientific approach to Fossil Fuels

Fossil Fuels are non-renewable sources of energy composed of coal, oil and natural gas. They were formed in an age known as the Carboniferous Period (Part of the Paleozic Era) that occured between 360-260 million years ago. During this time period, much of the Earth contained algae and other rmicroorganims such as phytoplankton and zooplankton in the aquatic environment (water) and swamp lands containing trees and other leafy plants in the terrestrial environment (land). As time progressed many of these plant and animal organisms eventually died and decomposed and they remains settled to the bottom of teh waters and swamps to produce a susbtance known as PEAT. external image peat.jpgPeat is a complex cyclo-hydrocarbon formed by the partial decomposition of various plants and other organisms in water. Much of this peat was then mixed with bed of organic remains including sand, clay and other minerals. Through a process known as mineral sedimentation, most of these organic substances entombed the decomposed organisms to form sedimentary rock. As the level of rock builup increased, a greater temperature and pressure was exerted on the peat causing it to be squeezed from the sedimentary rock. As this occured much of the sedimentary rock was fossilized and the peat, during biochemical reactions formed a number of fossil fuels, in particluar coal. Many fossil fuels are composed of carbon compounds, mostly hydrocarbons (compounds composed of only carbon and hydrogen). Today, fossil fuels are used for the production for generating electricity, producing fuels for motor vehicles and heating. There are known to produce over 85% of the world energy sources. Fossil fuels are known to be non-renewable sources of energy. This simply means that these resources cannot replenish themselves over a time relative to human life.

1.1.1 Coal

Coal has been an inaugural aspect in history. Coal was first commercial used in China in around 1000 BC for smelting copper and for casting coins. In 100-200 AD many Roman cave men used the combustion of coal for heating purposes. Greek philopsopher and scientist Aristotle, referred to coal as a "charcoal-like" rock, but the differences between charcoal and rock were developed by the English in 1700's who found that the chemical purity and structure of coal made it burn much hotter and much cleaner that charcoal. During the 18th and 19th centuries especially during the time of the Industrial Revolution, the demand for coal was proved to be the worldwide supplier of energy. As a result of the growth of coal use, James Watt in 1769 developed the first steam engine that effectively used coal as it's source of energy. Through coal gasification, lighting in many cities especially London during the 19th century was proven to be viable via use of coal until modern electricity was developed. In the late 1880's, Coal was used in the gneration of electricity for houses and factories. The first coal-fired electric generating station was developed by Thomas Edison and went into operation in 1882 in New York city. In the 1960's oil replaced coal and the larges source of primary energy. Nevertheless, coal still accounts for 25% of the world's primary energy needs as revealed in a 2005 study and accounts for 40% of the world's electricity.

Coal is a solid, black rock-like substance and is the Earth's most abundant fuel. It's organic nature ensures the presence of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sulfur, key elements found in decomposed plant and animal remains. The intense pressures and temperatures found in the conditions of the early Earth, caused the organic substance peat to develop into various types of coal. There are over 1200 various types of coal, but four main types are observed today.external image peatcoal.gif

1. Lignite- soften brown coal containing more hydrogen and oxygen
2. Subbituminous- dull black coal containing little plant matter and has a relitvely low heating consumption
3. Bituminous- jet black coal with a greater amount of decomposed plant matter and has a relatively high heating consumption
4. Anthracite- hardest and darkest type of coal, containing the greatest proportion of carbon than most other coal.

Extraction of coal takes place through mining. There are two main types of mining. The first is known as strip mining in which strip overburden and top soil are removed from the ground to expose the coal seam. The second is underground mining which is broken into "room and pillar" mining involving the strategic cutting of "rooms" in the coal bed leaving pillars and columns of coal. external image ugmine.jpgThe second aspect of underground mining is the "longwall method" where machines move back and forth accross a panel of coal extracting it's top surface and collecting the particles. "Room and pillar" mining is only 60% efficient as opposed to the "longwall method" which is 90% efficient in extracting coal. Coal is stored in huge piles near mines and larger power plants and is cleared, curshed and transported to nearby power plants and factories.

The use of coal for the generation of electricity involves burning it in a combustion reaction that to release steam. The steam is then converted into mechanical energy and used to spin the turbines at the powerplant which then generate a magnetic field and the production of electricty.

Global consumption of coal was 4990 million tonnes in 2005. For mor statistics on production and consumption of coal, visit the World Coal Institute website.

The use of coal has had impact upon the environment. Such include the release of harmful gases into the atmosphere as well as the production of acide rain. World Resources Institute reports that between the years of 2000 and 2020, 8 million deaths worldwide could possibly occur without changing present conditions as a result of the combustion of fossil fuels and coal.

1.1.2 Oil

The substance known as oil or "petroleum" has come to be prized higher than gold as the most precious and most used energy source in the global environment. Oil has been known to be used by man since ancient time especially during the time of Herodotus. At this time, oil was primarily used as a liniment or medicine rather than a fuel as well as for building purposes in Babylon. Oil production and the need for oil started expanding at the commencment of the 20th cnentury especially with the development of Henry Ford's T-model car. Throughout the 20th century,oil has had the essential role as a transportation fuel. It was used during both World Wars to field war weaponry espcially the use of tanks and aircrafts. In the post World War period of the 1950's and 60's, oil was a major contributor to economic explanation and urban sprawl, particularly in the United States as the popularity of the car and an abundant source of fuel such as oil was avaliable. During the last century, oil has been used as a synthetic polymer and although unknown by most has been responsible in the production of toothpaste, contact lenses, credit cards, polystyrene cups and plastic bags.

Oil rigs and oil reserves have constantly been of interest to modern society. In the early 1900's, oil discoveries were made in Texas and Iran as well as Venezuela. Large oil reserves in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were isolated in the 1930's. in the 1960's the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was created. In 1973, a major event known as the "global oil crisis" affected the world. As a result of the United State's support of the Isreli's in Syria in the Arab-Syria War on Yom Kippur, the Arabs issued an embargo on exportation of oils. As a result oil prices increased from $3 dollars a barrel to over $12 doallrs a barrel. In was now, that countries such as the USA began developing other sources of energy such as wind and solar power.

The cost of oil has increased over the last 10 years due to production cost and limited supply. Canada is both an exporter and importer of oil, exporting over 63% of it's production to other countries especially the USA. Canada's oil profits also increased by 7 billion dollars in teh year 2004-2005. Currently Canada is 2nd in the world with regards to the avaliability of oil reserves. Newly developed rigs in Alberta has been developed. Oil production costs are estimated to follow a "Hubbert" effect or bell curve, decreasing in production due to a lakc of availability in 2020. The prices of oil continue to rise with today's prices being $50/barrel

Oil is contained within porous rocks below sea level.external image ocean_xsec.jpg [[http://images.google.ca/imgres?imgurl=http://www.priweb.org/ed/pgws/systems/images/ocean_xsec.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.priweb.org/ed/pgws/systems/systems_home.html&h=378&w=515&sz=40&hl=en&start=1&tbnid=tTjXJBbB4TWW6M:&tbnh=96&tbnw=131&prev=/images%3Fq%3Doil%2Bunderground%26gbv%3D2%26svnum%3D10%26hl%3Den|]]When|When]] layers of sediment covered the organic material within these porous rocks, air was unable to enter the rocks. As a result, the organic material decomopesed in a vary different manner compared to how organic matter exposed to air would decompose today. As the layers of mud and sediment pushed down on the rocks, there was an increase in pressure and a rise in temperature brining the onset of anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that can survive without the presence of oxygen). Such bacteria including diatoms are able convert sunlight to stored energy and thus break down the organic matter within the rocks to form crude oil (a hydrocarbon consisting of unprocessed oil, dark and sticky in nature)

Heavy vicous crude oil is found in "source rocks" and occurs under two conditions. The first is very high temperatures and the second is when hydrocarbon chemicals use the heat from these high temperatures to break chemical bonds between themselves and a substance known as kerogen (a substance containing teh wax, oils and fat or buried algae, bacteria, spores and cuticles (leaf skin).

Oil extraction will be discussed in the next section with natural gas. Most of the oil collected is transported via pipelines and stored in large reserves and barrels . Oil wells may be either on land or under water. In North America many wells are "offshore" in the shallow parts of the oceans, especially in the Gulf of Mexico. The "crude" or unrefined oil is typically collected from individual wells by small pipelines.

Oil is primarily used in the production of petroleum for vehicles and other machinary.

The video below shows the extraction of oil in an oil refinery in Alberta, British Columbia, Canada.

1.1.3 Natural Gas

1.2 The impact of fossil fuels in Canada and the United Kingdom


The impact of fossil fuels in Canada gave be generated on two main levels. These include the environment and health and political issues.

**The Environment and Health**Air Quality

Ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter are major components of smog and have had adverse affects on Canadians including minor respiratory problem to cardiovascular disease, premature death (1,700 in 2004 within Toronto), asthma and over 6,000 hospitalizations.external image c051214a.gif In a period from 1990-2004, Canada saw and increase of 0.9% per year in ground-level ozone being produced. Ground-level ozone levels were the highest in 2004 particularly in areas of Southern Ontario and Quebec. Southern Ontario has been exhibiting a trend in increasing ground-level ozone levels since 1990. As evident by the smog, the problem has been attribuited to congested traffic conditions within the Greater Toronto Area, moving gradually down into the region of Southern Ontario where ozone levels are monitored. Southern Ontario in 2004 also had the highest levels of particulate matter. Ground-level ozone is produced by chemical reactions involving nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compound (VOC). These being the result of the burning of fossil fuels in motor vehicles, homes, industries and power plants. The use of liquid fuels and the combustion of oil has also increased the amount of VOC's being produced. Particulate matter has also increased as a result of transportation and industy emissions during the combustion of fossil fuels.

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Greenhouse Gas emissions

Greenhouse gas emissions primarily formed by the combustion of fossil fuels has also had a significant impact on the environment and the healthy welfare of the public. Increases in Greenhouse emissions are major contibutors to global warming and climate change. Such changes in climate include a rise in global temperatures, more heat waves, rises in sea levels and changes in precipitation. Currently in Northern Canada, particlularly around areas of the Maritimes and Northern Atlantic regions, sea ice is expected to decline as a result of climate changes. This could have major impications upon Northern travel, wildlife practices and traditional hunting practices as well as the extinction of a number of species of animals e.g. polar bears. Climate change is expected to have a number of health affects upon Canadians including heat stress, respiratory illnes and transmission of insect and waterborne disease as increases in tenperature will promote the flourishing of harmful microcorganisms.
In 2004 Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions reached an estimated 758 megatonnes of carbon dioxide being produced, an increase of 27% since 1990. The production and consumption of energy (including road transportation, the oil and gas industries and fossil fuel-fired electricity generation) accounted for 82% of total Canadian emissions in 2004 and 91% of the growth in emissions from 1990 to 2004. Energy production and consuption contributed heavily greenhouse gas emissions.

Some facts
  • Transportation, electricity generation, space heating and the general use of fossil fuels increased by 30% in a span of 14 years.
  • 82% pf total greenhouse gases in 2004 came from the conspution of fossil fuesls.
  • In the period ranging from 1990-1994, greenhouse emissions from specific fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal rose by 49%
  • The demand for electricty during this time period also increased the production of fossil fuels, causing a growth of 37% in greenhouse gas emissions through thermal electricity and heat production.

http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/canenv.html website

Political Issues- meeting the agreements of the Kyoto Protocol

An issue impacting the use of fossil fuels and it's prevention in Canada is the Kyoto Protocol. Canada anounced on the 20th of April 2007, that it will plan to cut it's greenhouse gases by 20% by 2020, but this has been a revised plan compared to the agreement first signed with Kyoto in 1996. The large use of economic profits relating to the exportation, importation and production of fossil fuels especially those in Alberta has been a key reason in Canada's past neglect of the Kyoto agreement. In 1990, the Liberal government promised a 6% reduction in greenhouse emissions by the year 2012, but now teh country's emissions are 30% higher than they were in 1990. This trend can be seen in the graph. external image c051214b.gifEnviornmental Misnister, John Baird believes that the 9-10 years of wasted time must be made up for in new and better alternatives for the reduction of greenhouse gases by at least 2025. He however believes, that the strong production and economic development of fossil fuels in Canada may be compromised by trying to initiate legislation to reduce greenhouse emissions. He also states possible increases in the price of cars, home appliances, electricity and fuel as a result of this reduction, even a seven to eight billion dollar loss of economic activity. Prime Minister Stephen Harper initiated a plan last year to reduce greenhouse emissions, but most believe that the plan will only be successful in the year 2050.

The issue is having a major impact on Canadians. Not only is the use of fossil fuels detrimental to the environment, but cut-backs on emmissions could result in increased costs for the consumer. Thus, fossil fuels are revealing to have a number of ramifications on political and social levels in Canada.

It is unknown whether the plan will be successful or not, however in the opinion of Democrat party leader Jack Layton, he states "This won't get the job done. With this plan, we fall further behind our international obligations"

The following link is an interview with John Baird, Federal Environmental Minister on the issues of Canada and the Kyoto protocol: Please right click on the link and open it in a new window. This will ensure that the wiki page still remains open while you watch the video.

United Kingdom

The UK has problems very similar to Canada. Enviroment, Health and Political issues all are problematic effects from fossil fuels however, although all of the UK's problems fall in the same categories, they are still slightly different.

Environment and Health
Climate change - it is an increasing problem in the UK and it is due to fossil fuels. Many climate scientists agree that the burning of these fossil fuels, therefore creating pollution, has increased global warming in the past 50 years. Four of the hottest years in the UK
has occured within the last 10 since records began, three centuries ago.

The temperature is predicted to rise significantly in the future of the UK. Within less than 80 years, temperatures are predicted to rise by an annual mean temperature change of 3 degexternal image _1015796_climate_temp_300.gifrees celsius. It isn't all good news for the UK however. It is predicted that the UK will get a lot wetter due to ice caps melting leading to parts of East Anglia and the South East of England could consequently end up under water. This is made worse by the fact that the UK is gradually tilting, the South East is sinking and the north west rising. The United Kingdom could also start to experience more extreme weather such as floods and storms. It is predicted that winter precipitation could increase by more than 20% by 2080. However, in contrast central and southern areas of the UK could experience much drier Summers than they are experiencing now leading to draughts. Northen England and Scotland though will probably experience both wetter summers and winters.
The changes to the environment could also have an effect on the UK's health. If the weather warms in the UK then a variety of insects could start to produce there. These would include the colorado beetle,knowno often destroy crops, cockoaches, fleas, mites, bloodsucking ticks, scorpions, poisnous spiders but most terrifyingly malaria carrying mosquitoes. Also as the sun comes out more, skin cancer and cataracts would become more prominent in the UK.
There are many political effects of fossil fuels as well. Oil has been the causes to many wars over the years. The most recent, although still debatable, the war in iraq. People argue that the war was started for the search of oil. Many people died in this war, including UK soldiers. In fact, by 15th October 2006, approxamately 41,744 to 46,668 civilians had been reported dead and the number of dead police 2,578. All these people dead for oil? Does it mean more to the world than the lives of human beings? The war also had an economic problem with civilians in the UK having to pay taxes to support the funds in the war. Royalty has even been added into the equation now with Prince Harry going to war. This causes many problems as he will be the main target and will be putting many lives in danger. Here is a video report on it:

1.3 Positive and Negative effects of Fossil Fuels

In the last decade, the negative effects of fossil fuels have outweighed the positive effcts primary due to (1) a realization of the finite avaliability of fossil fuels and (2) the adverse affects of fossil fuels on the environment and health. This has been clearly seen in both Canada and the UK.

Positive Effects:
  1. Fossil fuels are relatively cheap and are essentially sources from the natural earth. The only cost is the machinary and development processes required to extract these fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. The low cost of fossil fuels has a number of positive effects in saving the government much excess economic expenditure.
  2. Fossil fuels have a proven history of sufficiently meeting the enrgy requirements of man. Since the 19th century, fossil fuels have proven to generate adequate amounts of energy through the burning of coal in the generation of electricity, production of oil for use of motor vehicles as well as natural gas for heating. It has enabled man to live a more comfortable lifestyle and increased one's well-being through it's sufficient supply of energy.
  3. Fossil fuels are easily transported and easily obtained. Technologies such as specialized drills and mining equipment can effectively and efficiently extract fossil fuels. Furthermore because most fossil fuels are either solids or liquids through the condensation of gases, they can be easily transported to power industries and plants to produce electricity for human survival.
  4. The mining of fossil fuels and extraction of oils has deemed to have immensely positive affects on the government in regards to revenue generation and economic stability. Many countries such as the UK and Canada export oil to other countries, thus increasing revenue and overall GDP (Gross Domestic Product) for the government.
  5. Power Plants and other development centres that utilize fossil fuels, unlike types of renewable energy are not confined to specific environmental factors such as avaliability of sunlight, water or wind. They can be built anywhere provided there are capabilities to transport fuels to and from these areas. The elimination of such factors makes generating power easier and can also be established in remote areas of countries or other developing countries that lack elements to use renewable energy sources.
  6. The production of fossil fuels in releatively flexible and can easily be controlled. This especially important with regards to reducing greenhouse emissions especially with Canada and the UK's agreement on the Kyoto Protocol.

Negative Effects:
  1. Global warming: The combustion and use of fossil fuels generate toxic gases such as nitrous and sulfur oxides as well as carbon dioxide. When radiation from the sun hits the earth, it is generally reflected back into the atmosphere. However, with the presence of these "greenhouse gases", most of the radiation from the sun is absorbed and thus contirbute to global warming- higher teperatures and changes in the climate.
  2. Acid rain: The release of gases into the atmosphere by the combustion of fossil fuels results in acid rain. Gases such as carbon dioxide when released into the atmosphere reacts with water to produce carbonic acid. Similarly, nitrous gases react with oxygen in the air to form nitrogen dioxide. When this reacts with water, nitric acid is produced. As such these acids deteriorate and pollute ecosystems as well as man made structures.

Nitrogen dioxide + water = nitric acid + nitrogen monoxide

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Carbon dioxide + water = Carbonic acid

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3. When fossil fuels such as coal are used in the production of electricity, they convert water into steam for the process of generating electricity. This steam is then converted back into water in a cooling tower and sent back into the oceans/river. Often water travelling back into oceans/rivers is much warmer than the water already existing in these oceans/rivers. As a result, the increased temperatures has affects on ecosystems including the slow production of eggs in fish. This phenomenon is known as thermal pollution.
4. Supply and Demand issues: Currently, there is more demand for fossil fuels than supply. This is because of the non-renewable nature of fossil fuels and their finite existence. As mentioned above, production and consumption is modelled by the "Hubbert" affect which highlights a rapid use of fossil fuels reaching a peak and then slowing down due to lack of availability and abundance of these fuels after a certain period of time. As a result of such issues, the cost of fossil fuels are having negative affects on consumers indirectly through purchases of electricity, petroleum and gas heating.
5. Causes of air and land pollution: Currently in the UK and Canada, the combustion of fossil fuels leads to the production of smog in the atmosphere which results in acute respiratory illnesses as well as asthma. Certain oil spills have occured, especially the 1991 incident in the Kuwait which had adverse affects on the aquatic environment for plants and animals
6. As oil rigs go further out to sea and coal mines get deeper into the earth's underground, the extraction of fossil fuels will become an increased health and safety hazard. There have been many incidents of mining accidents in which many have lost their lives as well as shipwrecks. This could have major implication on worker's insurance and can potentially contribute to an increase in fossil fuel prices.

1.4 Sustainable and Renewable Energy

A humorous, yet self-educating video about the Earth, fossil fuels and renewable energy. This video was developed in the UK. As a result of increased uses of fossil fuels, there are very little natural resources available for human energy consumption. Fossil fuels as mentioned above are depleting sources, hence many countries and individuals have to resort to other forms of energy sources. Such energy sources are known as Sustainable Energy sources. Sustainable energy is ‘energy that can be produced economically and safely for all time without impacting the environment and well-being of future generations’. Sustainable energy sources are considered renewable because they can easily be replenished through natural processes for a number of generations. As use of fossil fuels continue to have major implication with regards to health, supply and demand and effects on the environment, many are looking towards other alternatives such as solar, hydro, wind and biomass energies. Not only are they renewable, but yet also inhibit the negative effetcs of fossil fuels on society.

1.4.1 Solar Energy

Solar Energy is the use of sun to meet the energy requirements of a population without resorting to the use of fossil fuels. It is a form of renewable energy because it is not in depletion and can be replenished indefinetely for a larfe period of time. All energy essentially comes from the sun as photoautotrophs and plants harness the sun's energy to undergo catalytic reactions and form the basis of the food chain. This is refered to as indirect energy retrieval. However, in order to power equipment neccessary for human living, man has developed means of extracting the suns's energy directly through solar power. Energy travels from the sun in the form of electromagnetic waves. Available solar energy from the sun is measured per unit of time e.g watts per metre square (W/m2). The amount of energy avaliable from the sun outside the earth's atmosphere is 1367 W/m2. This is equivalent to using one high powered hair dryer for every square foot of the sun's energy. On the surface of the Earth, there is 1000 W/m2 of energy avaliable and it is this energy that is used by humans.

There are 3 main ways that solar energy is harnessed:

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1. Solar Cells or "photovoltaic" cells that convert light energy directly into electricity.

2. Solar water heating: The sun heats water in glass panels on the roof. Black pipes attached to the glass panels carry the water through to the rest of the house. Since the pipes are black in colour, they tend to absorb more heat compared to other coloured pipes, therefore also increasing the temperature of the water.
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3. Solar furnaces: Huge array of mirrors that concentrate the sun's energy into a small space to produce high temperatures for the generation of electricity.
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The uses of solar energy are broken into 4 main categories.

1. Heating of Water and Swimming Pools and Ventilation of Air by building glazed flat plates and glass shields.

2. Electricity generation through photovoltaic batteries and integrated circuits. This also assist with harnessing stored energy at night and during the winter.

3. Chemical Procesess: These include the detoxification of air and water in which UV lights and a photocatalyust such as Titanium Dioxide is used in conjunction with solar energy to oxidize and hence remove harmful micro-organisms in the air and water. Currently, this aspect known as "Active Solar technologies" is being developed in Canada.

4. Passive Solar Energy: This specific use of solar energy does not require any auxillary equipment. It is simply the strategic positioning of windows, doors, insulation batts and incorporating strategic design into houses to gain the maximum amount of solar energy naturally.

Currently, the Ontario government has approved of the development and production of a photovoltaic solar plant in Sarnia, Ontario. To be completed in 2025, it is believed to produce over 400 000 Kw of power and send electrical power to over 60000 homes. The pricetag of construction is estimated to be $300 million.

New solar power plant to be built in Sarnia Ontario

The fact that solar energy is free makes it a very advantageous quality. Even the cost of developing and installing equipment to trap this energy is rather costly, in the long run this has a number of economic and social benefits compared to fossil fuels. Disadvantages of fossil fuels however is that they require much time and energy to develop especially the strategic design of equipment to harness the energy. In addition, solar power may become a disadvantage during the night or in countries that suffer from long winter conditions. Solar energy is thought to be beneficial in places such as Australia and California where much sunlight is available.

1.4.2 Geothermal Energy

The temperature at the Earth's core is 6000 degrees Celcius. Even travelling a few kilometres below the surface of the earth, one can expect to find temperatures of up to 250 degrees Celcius. It is this condition of the Earth that has been used for the use of geothermal energy. "Geo" meaning Earth and "Thermal" meaning heat. Under the surface of the earth, there are a number of hot rocks and reservoirs of hot water. Geothermal facilities use steam generated from this water and cracks within the rocks to spin turbines at the surface of the Earth and thus generate electricity. Geothermal energy can also be used to heat rooms directly and more efficiently rather than transporting it to a furnace. The attainment of geothermal energy works in a "reversal" method. During winter, heat can be taken directly from the ground and stored in certain heating units in order to heat rooms. In the summer, heat can be transfered back underground, thus cooling the room and saving on established airconditioning systems.external image geothermal.gif

Geothermal energy was first generated in Landrello, Italy. Today it has been developed in Canada, USA, may parts of Europe, Phillipines, Indonesia, Italy, Japan and China. Canada currently has over 30000 units of geothermal energy supplying heating and cooling facilities to home and buildings as well as being used for the generation of elecetricity. In Canada, a test site for geothermal energy is located in the Meager Mountain in the Pebble Creek region of British Columbia. In colder countries, geothermal energy is being used to melt ice and snow from the ground.

1.4.3 Bioenergy

Bioenergy is produced by the release of stored chemical energy contained in fuels mades from biomass. Biomass is a product of solar energy that has been stored in the photosynthetic activity of plants. As plants take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and combine this with water, they produce biomass. There are two main types of biomass. One is raw biomass which is unprocessed material from living matter e.g. forestry products, agricultural products, grass, crops, animal manure etc...The second type of biomass is Secondary Biomass which is material derived from biomass, but one that has gone through a number of chemical and physical changes e.g. leather, paper, cotton, rubber and cooking oils. Biomass is used to produce various forms of Bioenergy such as heat, electricity and motor fuels.

Many biochemical energy substances are being used today. Currently the combustion of biomass is used for heating, cooking, production of electricity and hot water and contributes a total fo 5.9% of Canada's demand for energy supplies. Certain wastes from agriculture, forests, muncipalities and food proecessess are converted to biofuels through as process known as "bioconversion". It believed that these fuels are much more efficient and safer compared to natural gas and oils as they do not release many greenhouse gases and do not require intense extraction processess since biomass is primarily waste.

There are three main types of Bioenergy

Bioethanol: Is produced by mixture of starch and cellulose components in biomass. Gasoline is blended with bioethanol because the combustion of such starches and cellulose minimize the harmful environmental effects of motor fuels and emit less greenhouse gases. Currently, there are over a thousand bioethanol stations in Canada.

Biodiesel: Is produced from new and recycled vegetable oils (canola, corn and flax) as well as oils produced from wood pulp, forestry and agricultural residues. Currently biodiesal is not reguarly available as it's cost of production is higher than normal diesal

Biogas: Is produced by strains of anaerobic bacteria that break down the biomass, such as animal manure and landfill waster and produce combustible gases such as methane and carbon dioxide whihc can be used as an alternative for heat and electricity.external image rubbish.jpg

Bioenergy is used in the process of generating heat and electricity through the boiling and aerobic digesting of a various wastes and wood extracts. It si also used as an automotive fuel in which certain sugars from polysaccharides (starch and cellulose) ferment to produce ethanol. Finally, bioenergy is used as heavy vehicle fuel especially in the production of diesal.

A few advantages of bioenergy includes it's bulky and low-energy density nature that makes it economical to transport and burn. The removal of biomass from the enviornment also increases tehgrowth of other wildlife and trees since the waste is being removed. On the negative side, biomass is often required in large numbers to be suifficient for the production of fuel. Often this is difficult.

A short news video on the nature of biodiesal

1.4.4 Hydroelectric Energy

Hydroelectricity is dependent on the hydrological cycle of water through evaporation, precipitation and flow due to gravity. Hydroelectricity in Canada accounts for 2/3 of the total energy supply. Most of the hydropower in Canada is managed by provincial states, the most renowned is the Ontario Power Generation and Manitoba Hydro.

The use of hydroelectricity first started in the early 19th century, withe the first generating facility installed in 1882 at Chaudie Retals Ottawa. In 1897, the introduction of high voltage transmissions and electric transformers containing 895KW were used to transfer hydroelectricity accross 11000 Volt Lines. IN 1903, a 137km, 50 000 Volt line was built near Shawnigan Falls in Quebec and became the largest and highest voltage transmission line in North America.The 1904, the Niagara Power company Plant created a transportation line of hydroelectricity between the USA and Canda. By the mid 1920's, technical advances in hydraulic turbine designs, concrete dams and filters, the conversion from using direct currrent to using alternate current as well as control technology for safety and efficiency of power generation was being developed and implemented. In the 1950's many small hydropower plants such as the Pinawa Plant in Winnepeg were shut down due to better economic viability within larger hydropower plants. Today, independend hydroelectric energy produces supply netween 1-30 Mega watts of power to utility companies. Through small hydroplants still exist today, large one are strikingly more predominant, in particular the Le Grande in Quebec.

Hydroelectric power stations consist of a dam, powerhouse containing electrical and mechanical tools and a waterway. The dam is built to (1) create a height as which water can fall from one end of the waterway to another and (2) collect water for the generation of electricity. As water flows from the river/reservoir at the top of the dam, it contains gravitational potential energy. Once water begans to flow off the reservoir and down the dam, there is a conversion of gravitation potential energy to kinetic energy. As the water flows through special tubes called "Penstock" whilst coming down the dam, the kinetic energy of the water causes the production of steam as a result of "water vapourization". It is this vapour that spins the turbines, egt connected to teh generators and thus creates electricity. Most of the remaining water is sent to the base of the damn and recycled.external image hydr2.gif

Hydroelectric energy is non-polluting and produces no noxious gases, heat or hazardous wastes. Since the kinetic flow of the water and vapourization can spin the turbine to produce energy, the use of fossil fuels such as coal is not required. Hydroelectricity also has the ability to be highly flexible in responding quickly to changes in energy demand. Some disadvantages of hydro is that the flow of water from two levels of altitude can often become contaminated causing destruction fo wildlife. There are also a number of ecological and economic factors involved with the building of dams.

Currently in Canada 182 832 Mega Watts of hydroelectricity is being generated. This is expected to increase by 0.5% per year until the year 2020.
An interactive diagram about how hydroelectricity works is on the following link:

external image hydro_pie_chart.jpg
Hydro makes up a large proportion of Canada's energy resources.

1.4.5 Wind Energy

Wind energy uses the the conventions of kinetic air movement and winds to produce more useful forms of energy such as mechanical energy and electicity. Wind power is an infinte form of sutainable energy.It is pollution free and does not produce toxix/radioactive waste or greenhouse gases.

Wind power has been a useful form of energy for a long time. Ancient Persians use to use wind energy to pump water from wells. The Chinese use to use wind power for the development of special fighting kites and the wind was also used in windmills to grind grain. Currently wind energy is used for the generation of electricity through "wind turbine gnerators", "wind pumps" and "wind turbines". As the sun heats the atmosphere, some areas of air appear to be warmer than others, as this warm air rises, cold air replaces the risen hot air and thus a breeze or wind is felt. When the wind spins the propellar on a
"wind tower", round in a concentric motion, a generator at the base of the wind tower is also being spun and thus at the same time generating electriicty. The rate of production of electricity is dependent on a number of factors.external image wind.gif

(1) Potential energy and electricity generation depends on wind speed and the density of the air dependent by the air temperature, barometric pressure and altitude.

(2) The power and energy output of the wind tower is directly proportionate to the wind speed. Hence it is beneficial to locate wind towers in areas near the coast where wind levels are realtively high.

(3) The greater the number of wind towers, the greater the amount of electricity produced.

The cost of wind energy is dependent on
  • the initial cost of the wind turbine installation
  • the interest rate on the money invested
  • the amount of energy produced
    Some wind turbine generators can cost up to $1500-$2000 per kilowatt for wind farms that use multiple-unit arrays of large machines, but these costs are still cheaper in teh long run compared to the health and economic expenditure of fossil fuels. Currently,, the international wind power industry turns over 9 billion US dollars. In, 2004, wind generated energy (47000 megawatts) generated 92 Terawatts/hour of electricity. In April of 2006, Canada's installed wind energy cpacity was 944 megawatts, enough energy to power 280 000 homes. The UK ranks 8th, while Canada ranks 12th in the global windpower potential capacity rating.
    Some advantages of windpower includes is inability to produce toxic wastes, gases or other harmful substances (Every megawatt of wind energy produced can help to reduce greenhouse emissions by up to 0.9% per year). It is relatively quiet and does not have any adverse affects on ecosystems or health. It can also co-exist with other farming and crops as the generators require a small amount of space. Some disadvantages include the avaliability of sufficient wind as well as being able to place such towers in the right position and orientation for wind generation.external image line.gif
The media player on the left is a recorded interview with Mr. Martin Rawlings conducted by Nikhil Farias discussing the depletion of fossil fuels and integration of sustainable energy forms in Canada. Mr, Rawlings works for a company called Golder Associates.
Golder Associates Corporation is a premier global group of consulting companies, specializing in ground engineering and environmental science. By servicing client needs and building strong client relationships, our people have made Golder Associates one of the most trusted sources of professional services in the world.

Operating as an employee-owned group since its formation in 1960, Golder Associates has created a unique culture with pride in ownership and a commitment to providing technically-sound and cost-effective consulting and contracting services. Experiencing steady growth for more than four decades, Golder Associates has more than 100 offices and 4,500 dedicated professionals operating globally in local companies, with offices across Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America.

external image joblogo.gif

2. Catholic Perspective

2.1 The Teachings of the Bible

Leviticus Leviticus|25:1-8
"The LORD said to Moses on Mount Sinai, 2 "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a sabbath to the LORD. 3 For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. 4 But in the seventh year the land is to have a sabbath of rest, a sabbath to the LORD. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. 5 Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest. 6 Whatever the land yields during the sabbath year will be food for you—for yourself, your manservant and maidservant, and the hired worker and temporary resident who live among you, 7 as well as for your livestock and the wild animals in your land. Whatever the land produces may be eaten."

The biblical quote from Leviticus above demonstrates the necessity of sustainability. The bible reveals the importance in acquiring the self-control and will to stop production and enjoy the fruits of what has been produced. Essentially, the story of the vineyard here parallels society's production of fossil fuels. Ultimately, the story challenges us to put the technological, economic and social desires of fossil fuels away for one day and seek what has been produced. It encourages us as Catholics to avoid wastage. Sustainability is not about continually producing energy from fossil fuels to suit our lives day after day, it is about producing enough for a suitable amount of time and ensuring that some resources are left to future generations. We need some time to stop and reflect upon the value and scarcity of fossil fuels. Similarly in the passage above, the year of rest was a time of reflection in examining the value of the production and sharing in the fruits of labour. Similarly, we need to have time to reflect on our depleting fossil fuel supply and the adverse affects on the environment. In this time of reflection, we must also continue to examine sources of sustainable energy. external image bible.jpg

Ezekiel Ezekiel|34:2-4.
"Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not the shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you did not take care of the flock! You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally."

Our connection to the environment is very similar to a shepherd and his flock. We are the shepherds, given the power and command from God to protect our flock; that is our environment. The passage above however, depicts the reality of our current situation, our care to the environment is being overshadowed by the innate obsession and consumption with certain elements of the environment such as fossil fuels. The passage above, through it's harsh message aims to rid us of our selfishness. As stewards of creation and people of the Catholic faith, it is our moral responsibility to step oustide our selfish concerns and become aware of the needs of others. In this case, the "other" is the environment as well as our own fellow human beings. If we subject ourselves to the hypocrisies fo continually burning fossil fuels without seeking other forms of renewable energy, we become the failing shepherd whose duty of care towards his sheep is diminished due to his own selfish desires.

Luke Luke|12:15,23,34.

"And He said to them, "Beware and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does life consist of his possessions. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

This quote calls us to a closer action as Catholics in deciding where our priorities lie. The quote from Luke's gospel causes us to question the values of live over the values of possession. If we have an immense amount of love and appreciation for God, then our priorities would lie in the non-materialistic aspects of life. Such apects would include love, stewardship, protection, sustainability and lack of ignorance. If we wish to make the next million dollar profit or power up the next high definition television, then we choose our possessions over life. Our life and our fate is ultimately judged on our character, not on our personal possessions. Although we must be aware that the use of natural resources may well be a beneficial aspect to our lives, it should not be so predominant that we as Catholics fail to recognise life in our ecosystems as well as in our fellow human beings. The biblical passage challenges our motives. It is almost like a specific answer to a very difficult question. God states that if we choose possessions, then that is where our heart will lie. As Catholics, our hearts must lie within those aspects that make us responsible citizens in the Kingdom of God. Promoting a cleaner environment, using public transport, supporting legislation that reduces the consumption of fossil fuels are examples of these aspects.

2.2 The Catechism of the Catholic Church

2415 The seventh commandment [thou shalt not steal] enjoins respect for the integrity of creation. Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined for the common good of past, present, and future humanity. Use of the mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives. Man's dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church in this context applies one of the Ten Commandments to the environment. Clearly, the message being communicated is that the earth is available for our consumption but in proper limits and in a manner that does not tyranize God's creation. The most strenthening aspect of this passage that coerces us to become aware of the reality of the situation is the application of one of the Ten Commandments. Our Catholic faith teaches us that entrance into heaven is determined by following all the Ten Commandments. In light of stealing, we are called to stop and think about our actions. Often, through our use of fossil fuels, we tend to neglect the impact this has on the environment and in essence who the Earth really belongs to. Our awareness is more realized when we examine our actions in light of the Commandment. Using natural resources in a greedy way is very much stealing. God does not condemn us to using these resources,but he asks us to have consideration for future generations. "love one another as I have loved you". I have given you the earth as a sign of love, now you must do the same for future generations.

373 In God's plan man and woman have the vocation of "subduing" the earth as stewards of God. This sovereignty is not to be an arbitrary and destructive domination. God calls man and woman, made in the image of the Creator "who loves everything that exists," to share in his providence toward other creatures; hence their responsibility for the world God has entrusted to them.

The Catechism here teaches us as Catholic to live and act as God wants us to. God provided an environment for all of creation in the act of love. If we are to become faithful followers of God, then we too must show this love towards other creatures. That means, when we burn fossil fuels we are expected to show love towards nature and the ecosystems being degraded by the impact of these fossil fuels. God clearly state our position on the Earth as stewards of creation. We "subdue" the earth in order to survive, such that we get our energy requirements from natural resources, but as Catholics we are reminded to strike a harmony between "subduing" the earth and engaging in acts of destructive domination. The term providence refers to the divine plan that God has set for all his creatures. If we destroy the environment, we essentially violate this providence that God has for all creatures and humanity. His providence assures that all creatures show live in freedom and harmony, it is therefore our responsibility to ensure this occurs.

2.3 The Papal Encyclicals

Pope John Paul II highlights a number of specific questions about man and the enviornment in his encyclical published "Centesimus annus".The pope examines certain elements of human behaviour pertaining to the excess consumption of natural resources by man and the obliviousness in which he situtates himself with regards to the environmental affects and the needs of future generations. Essentially, he discusses the ecological question of consumerism in which he states " In his desire to have and to enjoy rather than to be and to grow, man consumes the resources of the earth and his own life in an excessive and disordered way". It is this statement that has a profound connection to the use of fossil fuels. Currently, the energy needs of our society coerces us to consumer natural resources in an excessive and disordered way. Not only are we developing machinary that inevitably destroys and disorders ecosystems as we try to harness natural resources such as coal, oil and natural gas; the excessive obsession with going deeper underground or further out to sea, risking life to gain these resources reveals the excessive behaviour or consumerism expressed by individuals of society. Another point of interest developed in the statment is jeopardization of the life of man himself. Not only does the Pope express concern for the enviornment, but yet also man. The excessive use of natural resources is also having an impact on man's health, in particular through the combustion of fossil fuels that release toxic gases into the atmosphere and can eventually lead to death.

Pope John Paul II, states that man has become so encroached in ordeals of consumerism that he has somewhat assumed the role of God in creating a tyranny over the environment rather than being a steward within in.external image jp_2.jpg "Instead of carrying out his role as a co-operator with God in the work of creation, man sets himself up in place of God and thus ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature, which is more tyrannized than governed by him" As stewards of God's creation, it is our moral responsibility to protect the environment given to us. The eschatalogical ethic in Matthew's gospel allowed us as Stewards to enter the "narrow" gate into the Kingdom of Heaven. It is our priveledge to be given an enviornment that allows for the flourshing of man and one that meets our needs. To consume the resources of the earth without acknowledgement of the Divine creator violates the natural law and the laws of the covenant established by Abraham. Pope John Paul II does not condone the use of natural resources "Godgiven purpose, which man can indeed develop but must not betray", rather he states that they must be used in moderation and with appreciation and respect for the creator that have given them to us. Clearly the issues involved in the oil crises of the 1970's violated this.

In this encyclical, Pope John Paul II finally urges us as stewards of creation to stop and take a look around the environment and reflect on our future generations "wonder in the presence of being and of the beauty which enables one to see in visible things the message of the invisible God who created them. In this regard, humanity today must be conscious of its duties and obligations towards future generations." The Pope expresses that the resources placed on this Earth our not only for our consumption but for the generations to come. It is here, that our development of sustainable and renewable forms of energy should be implemented in order to conform to the message of the Pope and that of God. As we, the descendents of Abraham received the loving hand of God through the environment, it is our moral resposnibility to continue this "loving hand" for the generations to follow. It involves stopping to reflect upon the consequences of our obsession with gaining and burning natural resources and focus on future generations through use of sustainable energy forms

2.4 Letters from the Bishops of Canada

For Canadian Bishops “the environment” was an important concern long before it became a hot topic in the media and on the political podium. Canada’s Catholic Bishops have been pushing government to remain true to their obligations under the Kyoto Accord - in hopes that Canada will lead by example in the stewardship of the earth. For Canada's Catholic bishops, maintaining a healthy environment, particularly with regards to climate change and support for ‘environment-saving measures’, is a moral issue. Since as early as 2001, Canadian Bishops have made repeated appearances with strong opinions, whether appearing before government committees or in public letters to politicians.
"I think it's a moral problem, because we have the responsibility to those people who live in certain areas of the Third World," said Archbishop Bertrand Blanchet of Rimouski, Quebec, a biologist by training who is a member of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops' (CCCB) social affairs commission.
Bishop Blanchet, when he spoke further on the topic, began by pointing out the burden that would be left for future generations if more were not done now to prevent unhealthy climate change.
"We need some kind of conversion of thought to find a way to better use the energy we have." – Archbishop Blanchet

‘CELEBRATE LIFE: CARE FOR CREATION’ The Bishops Letter for Ecology – October 4th, 1998
In October of 1998 a letter by Canadian Bishops in Alberta entitled: “Celebrate Life: Care for Creation” was published. In the opening, the writing touches on the thoughts of the late Pope John Paul II. He reminds us that current actions cannot continue and immediate change is required by all to ensure a better future. “Faced with the widespread destruction of the environment, people everywhere are coming to understand that we cannot continue to use the goods of the earth as we have in the past.” – Pope John Paul II
The letter indicates that Catholic should be among those in support of the initiatives that are emerging ranging from global treaties to eliminate ozone destroying chemicals (such as the burning of fossil fuels) to community recycling organizations.
Yet we are reminded as Catholics that “much more needs to be done, if future generations of our children and grandchildren are not to be saddled with a life-threatening environmental deficit.”
The Bishops repeatedly emphasize that ecological crisis must be seen as a spiritual and moral issue and calls all Christians to “step back and reflect on our place in the midst of all that God has created in such abundance and beauty.”
All creation is called to give praise to God and humans, as part of God's creation, are in the likeness of God and have a key role and responsibility as part of creation. Humans are called to exercise dominion over the earth, a dominion of service, wisdom and love.
The Bishops, in their letter bring up a biblical passage that provides a model for ecological ethics - Sabbath and jubilee (Leviticus 25)
“Pope John Paul II describes how the celebration of the jubilee was a reminder that those who owned the land and its wealth "were really only stewards, ministers charged with working in the name of God . . . since it is God's will that created goods should serve everyone in a just way" (On the Coming of the Third Millennium, 13).”
This should remind all of us, that as humans we are not to forget that everything is God’s and we are merely stewards of his gift. We hold an obligation to maintain and respect his gift in the same way we are obligated to take care of everything in creation and respect his commandments. The biblical jubilee has in it what is called an "eco-justice" message - that brings together a call for social justice among mankind and a proper relationship with the land and all in creation.

"Ecological destruction and the loss of biodiversity obscure our ability to see andexperience God and are an affront to the Creator. The fate of the natural world and
human life are fully intertwined. Ecological destruction harms human life, and human
social injustice inevitably has ecological consequences.”

The letter closes by referring to ‘now’ as a time for jubilee preparation and a time for a new beginning. The state of our environment is a challenge for us to embrace a right relationship with God, all human beings and all creation. This need for a new beginning is a call for us, specifically Canadians, here and now to celebrate life, to care for creation.

2.5 Letters From Bishops of UK

Bishops from the UK also care about the environment and the effects of fossil fuels. One example of this is the Bishop of London. He said:
"Making selfish choices such as flying on holiday or buying a large car are a symptom of sin. Sin is not just a restricted list of moral mistakes. It is living a life turned in on itself where people ignore the consequences of their actions."
The Guardian Unlimited reports on this:
"The Bishop of London, who was criticised last year when he suggested that flying to go on holiday was sinful, has agreed not to fly for a year to prove his point.
In a move causing his staff problems rearranging his travel schedule, the Right Rev Richard Chartres, one of the Church of England's leading spokesmen on environmental issues, said he would not fly to meetings nor, since he took family breaks in Devon, to go on holidays. "

The Bishop also has been quoted to say: "This is not just ... climbing on the bandwagon. It has been a major theme of mine ... I have been trying to look critically at my carbon footprint. We all have to live responsibly. I can see myself spending a lot of time on drafty railway platforms."
On a documentry God is Green film-maker Mark Dowd even managed to pursuade the bishop to fly by air.

2.6 Textbook and other religious sources

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church

The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church is a document issued by the Catholic church on specific social issues governing society holistically and our response as Catholics. In this segment of the doctrine, a specific discussion is made about the respect of the environment and the worlwide co-operation that is required for the common good of all humanity, now and for future generations. The doctrine strives that “One must take into account the nature of each being and of its mutual connection in an ordered system, which is precisely the ‘cosmos'." It indicates that sepecific care for the environment takes the work of not just one nation, but many if any change is to occur. It is our moral responsibility to ensure that economic need and advantage does not hinder or diminish the flourishing of humanity. Currently, the global profits associated with the exportation/importation and use of fossil fuels in often being given a higher priority compared to the realization associated with human health, destruction of ecosystems and pollution. The doctrine continually emphasis the need for collaboration. "Responsibility for the environment, the common heritage of mankind, extends not only to present needs but also to those of the future. “We have inherited from past generations, and we have benefited from the work of our contemporaries: for this reason we have obligations towards all, and we cannot refuse to interest ourselves to those who will come after us, to enlarge the human family.” If we recall, the issue facing the world is "global warming". This is sufficient to say that the problems we face do not just affect us but yet those around us. Our Catholic responsibility is not to live a narccisstic lifestyle thinking of only our needs, but to collaborate with others on a global scale to realize the importance of renewable energy and the need to protect the environment. As we are all a common mankind as sstated in the doctrine, drawn by the hands of God, so too are the descendents of this generation, therefore our duty and obligation to promote sustainability is not a choice but yet a duty. All inhabitants of the Earth have an equal responsibility towards the enviornment on a global scale. As philosopher Immanuel Kant once expressed that doing good comes from duty, we as Catholics must take on this approach and make it a duty to resolve the issues facing our precious environment

St. Francis of Assisi

St Francis of Assisi is known as the patron saint of ecology. He has a certain quote that relates pertinently to issue of fossil fuels and sustainable energy and our response as Catholics.

"Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible." -
In light of the above quote, as Catholic what is neccessary is firstly recognising as moral agents the need for environmental change and effect of our actions on the environment. What is also neccessary is to reduce our consumption and combustion of fossil fuels and the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. We have a fast range of possibililities including the development and use of sustainable energy which will harness many improvments to the environment, human health and a brighter future for further generations. external image St-Francis-birds-2.jpgIf we succeed in changing our energy uses such that we develop more economical and beneficial energy devices, our deliberation and effort that it takes now to develop such strategies will be a thing in the past. As to now, what may seem impossible will hopefully become a reality in the next 50 years. Our moral obligation to the environment calls us to act now while we still have the capacity and tunasity to do so. Taking smaller steps in the preservation of the environment now will lead to one giant leap in the sustainability and cleanliness of our environment for future generations.

Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople signed a Declaration of the Environment on June 10th 2002 entitled " We are Still Betraying the Mandate God Has Given Us". This document provides a number of ethical goals which we are encouraged as Catholics to ponder on.

  1. The world's children should be of primary thought when reflecting on and evaluating options of action- we are called to action to promote the use of renewable/sustainable energy sources. It is our best interest to do this, if we are to provide a healthy and clean environment for our children.
  2. Science and technology in constructive way, in terms of the centrality of the human person, of the common good, and of the inner purpose of creation. Science and technology has proved to correct past mistakes so that the spiritual and material well-being of the present and future generations can developed, but ultimately it is the love of our children will show the path that one must follow into the future.- we have enough resources, economic capital and supplies to develop renewable sources of energy, but it is ultimately the time, persistence and dedication to our children that will be the finite influence of developing these renewable sources of energy.
  3. Act with humility in regards to the idea of ownership and to be open to the demands of solidarity. Morality and weakness of judgment act as deterrents of irreversible actions that can be detrimental to our property and the earth. Humans are only stewards of the common heritage- We must use ethics and morality to prevent engaging in actions that have consequence so great and solutions so little e.g greenhouse emissions that contribute to ozone depletion. It is also important to realize the transiency of our inhabitation on earth. We do not OWN the earth, we are simple CARETAKERS!
  4. Acknowledge diversity of situations and responsibilities in the work for a better world environment- the issues of fossil fuels does not just affect one nation, but yet the world in general. As catholics, it is our moral responsibility to seek the assistance of the church, religious organizations, governments and institutions in order to make the environment a better place.

3. International Agreements

3.1 The aims of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership

The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (herein refered to as REEEP) is currently an active, public-private partnership operating on a global scale that structures policy and regulatory initiatives for clean energy as well as facilitating financing for energy projects on a global scale. external image hp_reep_logo.gif
The REEEP was initiated at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development on August 2002 by the UK and effectively increased in the number of stakeholders both nationally and regionally in 2003. In June, 2004, The REEEP was formally established as a legal entity with the status of an International NGO (Non-Government Organization) in Austria. The partnership is funded by a number of governments including countries such as: Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, The United Kingdom, The United States and the European Commission.

The aim of the REEEP is to "accelerate the integration of renewables into the energy mix and to advocate energy efficiency as a path to improved energy security and reduced carbon emissions, ensuring socio-economic benefits". This simply means ensuring that proper legislative laws and adequate funding is available to increase renewable sources of energy into the energy mix of both developed and developing countries. REEEP is strongly based on precedents, that is, using one successful energy efficiency philosophy in one country and applying it to another. REEEP also believes in the role of all governments: local, provincial, federal and international in playing a part in renewable energy and energy efficiency. REEEP suggests that success in achieving efficiency in use of sustainable energy forms are related to two main aspects. The first is Policy and Regulation which ensures that there are sufficient rules available for firstly, legally constructing sources of renewable energy that does not violate environment or building and construction laws and secondly, ensuring that these policies and regulations are financial secure for those investors who place money into REEEP projects. The second aspect of the in achieving efficiency in use of renewable energy forms is innovative financing which ensures that sustainable energy developments are financially viable and bankable as well as economically attractive. It is these two aspects that REEEP is integrating into developing countries across the world in its attempt to increase energy efficiency globally.external image world_map.gif
Some goals associated the aims of REEEP include:

  1. Increase international collaboration to accelerate market growth of modern renewable and energy efficient systems by removing barriers such as (policies, regulations, markets and technical) for energy development as well as lower costs to make to make renewable energy affordable for developed and developing countries.
  2. Achieve a significant increase in uses of renewable energy and energy efficient systems in order to improve energy security, tackle climate change and provide access to modern an reliable energy services.
  3. Reduce greenhouse emissions
  4. Deliver social improvements to developing countries by improving access to reliable and clean energy sources and making renewable energy systems more effective and efficient,
  5. Bring economic benefits to countries that use energy in a more efficient way and are developing indigenous forms of renewable energy in their energy mix.

3.2 The response of Canada and the UK to the aims of REEEP

There are a number of ways in which Canada is attempting to meet the agreements of the REEEP. At a REEEP side event on the 6th of December 2005 in Montreal, Minister of Energy, Donna Cansfield mentioned a number of action plans of energy efficiency that would meet the aim and goals of REEEP in Ontario.
Ontario is the hub of economic activity in Canada. Contributing to over 40% of Canada’s GDP. Key industries include the automotive, steel and chemical, manufacturing, forestry and mining industries that rely heavily on stable and affordable energy supply. Until the 20th century, much of the energy needs of Ontario were funded by the provincial electrical utility company, Ontario Hydro. However due to deregulation processes. Ontario hydro broke up and a competitive highly competitive market in Ontario was created. Promises of lower prices and abundant supplies of new resources were promised, however the exact reverse occurred. Much of Ontario’s demand for electricity had grown by 8.5%, however the installed capacity to provide this energy had fallen by 6%, as a result much coal-fired electricity was imported from the US. Not only was this expensive, but yet increased greenhouse gases resulting in smog problems within the Great Lakes regions of Ontario and other health and environmental cost. Ontario’s energy systems are aging. As a result, Donna Cansfield anticipates refurbishing, rebuilding and replacing 25000 megawatts of generating capacity, more than 80% of the energy system in Ontario. In doing so, three main strategies have are planning to be implemented.
1. Closing Coal- Ontario plans to phase out coal by the end of the decade. This will be the first jurisdiction in North America to do this. Replacing coal remains as the single largest greenhouse gas reduction initiative in Canada. This reduction of 30 mega tonnes of coal delivers more than 10% of Canada’s national target from one single decision.
2. New Cleaner Energy- The use of hydroelectricity has been in Ontario since the 1960’s. The Government plans to expand renewable resources to incorporate wind, biomass, solar and other renewable energy forms. By the end of 2008, Ontario will see an 80 fold increase in its wind capacity. By the end of 2007, new renewable energy will exceed 1350 megawatts. The target for 2010 is to have 10% of Ontario’s capacity from renewable energy.

This is being done in four main ways.

(a) Using competitive bidding processes that encourage private sector to develop wind farms.
(b) Ensuring that distribution utilities allow customers to “net meter” renewable energy system under 500 kilowatts.
(c) Developing “advanced renewable tariffs” as it known in Europe, but in Canada it will be called “standard offers” for generators embedded within distribution systems.
(d) Opening up government owned lands and other opportunities for renewable energy.
3. Conservation Culture- Ontario aims to create a culture of energy efficiency and conservation through Demand Side Management (A utility program aimed at reducing consumer use of energy through conservation or efficiency measures). Certain market barriers to use of DSM and market barriers exist and require to be overcome through incentives and information. The Conservation Bureau in Ontario will be ensuring that energy conservation can be attained on a level playing field. Much like the goals of REEEP, legislation will be implemented that ensure agencies and public sector organizations e.g. universities, colleges, hospitals and municipalities publish conservation plans that will be considered in capital investment decisions. The legislation will also ensure smart metering in over 80000 homes in Ontario to monitor energy use and reduce energy bills. Another part of the legislation is deep water cooling, external image enwave3pipe.gifwhich will use water gathered from deep within Lake Ontario and use it for cooling buildings in Toronto.
Using these plans, Ontario aims to increase energy efficiency by 5% this year (2007)

Another Program developed in Canada to meet REEEP aims includes the Green Procurement Program. Through this program, Ontario will aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce waster and support recycling, improve energy and water efficiency, reduce toxic and hazardous chemicals and substance and support a healthy environment for all Canadians. Specific strategies being implemented include:

Canada aims to fulfill its international obligation of REEEP to developing countries by purchasing more energy-efficient appliances from overseas importers especially developing countries such as China and countries in South East Asia. As globalization increases, the capacity of building energy efficient appliances in these countries and exporting them to Canada will generate revenue for these developing countries. Furthermore as their skill levels develop and the level of demand increases, they will have a greater access to the production and use of these appliances thus creating a more sustainable economy in such developing countries.
Another strategy to be implemented is ENERGY STAR specifications that will be used in assessing products that are sold in Canada. Some of the criteria to be assessed includes: computational annual cost, life-cycle and payback periods based on the cost of the products, utility bill savings as a result of these products lower energy use as well as the amount of carbon dioxide emission reductions. The use of energy star specifications represents certain precedents that can be applied to other parts of the world. This is an inaugural aspect of REEEP’s policies.
Certain success strategies are being used in Canada include the use of consultation from lower levels of authority to higher ones e.g. local, provincial, federal, international. According to Sylvia Rezessy, one of REEEP’s energy efficiency strategies “It has been the proactive ness of public building administrators that has made the provision of energy efficiency services there a success that has come from the bottom up,”. Another success strategy is increasing energy efficiency through government purchasing as opposed to TNC’s (Transnational Corporations). This is for two reasons. The first is the establishment of a significant market for those products by stimulating it. The second is the encouragement of awareness in the market generally. Another successful strategy in the Green Procurement program is purchasing products from the governments of developing countries and showing them that it can be done in order to increase revenue and energy efficiency.

Here is a solution implemented by the Ontario government to ban Incandescent Bulbs

3.3 Successfulness of REEEP in meeting it's aims

REEEP continually attempts to meet its aims in relation to its global projects. REEEP currently had over 50 projects being implemented in over 40 different countries globally. The projects involving REEEP often include the major aspects of its aims involving policy and regulation as well as innovative financing. Most of the projects are broken into four main categories. The first is policy and regulation projects, the second is innovative and attractive finance projects, the third is finance and business models and trends and finally the last type of project is energy efficiency. REEEP has implemented a number of project management standards to ensure professional and transparent management is enforced through all projects. It has also increased use of Information Technology processes in order for better management of programs. Currently, REEEP has provided over 2.2 million Euros in funding in 2006 and 1.1 million Euros in 2005. Past projects of REEEP that were directed in meeting its aims include:

  1. Clean Energy Policy and Action Plan in Liberia: This project was aimed at fulfilling aims regarding policy and regulation as REEEP liaised with government officials to develop policies that increased sustainable energy to the impoverish war citizens of Liberia. In October, 2005 The Communities of Western African states published a paper on renewable energy with REEEP’s strategies.
  2. Attractive financial support to Madhya Pradesh in India: In October 2006, REEEP funded a 1.5 million Euro project in Madhya Pradesh India to reduce energy consumptions of street lights by 30-40%. The plan was successful and currently, municipalities in Madhya Pradesh are implementing more projects related to energy conservation.
  3. REEEP organised a transfer of China and International best practices of village power to East Asian countries including Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea and Japan via the establishment of a business model for the PV village power station in Mongolia. The project was successful, due to the proper financial and policy frameworks in a business context set up by REEEP.
  4. Over 212 000 Euros was granted to Brazil by REEEP in the form of a private investment fund for renewable energy and energy efficiency. An attractive funding element of REEEP’s plant, in February 2006, 14 small hydro power plants were built in Brazil generating 198 Megawatts of energy.
  5. Through policy regulation, REEEP was able to remove barriers to residential Energy efficiency in countries such as Moldova, Armenia, Russia, Bosnia and Yugoslavia. Spending over 121, 738 Euros, REEEP was able to use regulatory policies and the funding to develop renewable energy systems for low-income families living in apartment buildings.

external image mongolia2.jpgexternal image cap_0608rew_rural01.jpg

Here is a solution implemented by the Ontario government to ban Incandescent Bulbs

4. Solutions

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody ever does anything about it."- Mark Twain
How Can We Stop Causing Damage?
The resources, technology and ingenuity to reduce the threat of global warming exist right now. Solutions are already being implemented within in many societies in North America and in Europe. By getting on board with renewable energy and by taking measures that strive for energy efficiency, especially by increasing the efficiency of vehicles we put out on the road, we can take those very necessary steps required to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels that cause global warming.
It is clear that many things are easier said than done. It is always hard for governments to implement a huge effective change that will cut fossil fuel emissions, but every little step is a good one as long as it is in the right direction. In fairly recent news Toronto’s city council sent one of its members to London, England to learn more about that city’s so called “congestion tax”. The Head of council planning said: "London's taken some comprehensive approaches. They're often heralded as the one major city that's introduced congestion taxes."
Motorists in London are charged about $20 a day to drive into the city's core. The tax is widely credited with reducing that city's congestion problem.
Plans like a “congestion tax” – or even credit returns for those who use public transportation are steps in the right direction, however they are small and only short term. Only big things will affect big change and solve big problems.
Investing in “Renewable Energy” is one means of significantly reducing harmful emissions. Solar power, wind power, and geothermal power are all methods of energy production waiting to be tapped into and developed. North America largely depends on fossil fuels in the forms of coal, natural gas, and oil, but only 2 percent from renewable sources. We need to put more money into developing these methods of energy production. If we produce more energy using renewable methods of production – this would be an effective step towards reducing global warming emissions.
We have heard of natural sources of energy before – maybe mankind needs a smoother transition into environmentally friendly habits. We know the burning of fossil fuel (oil, coal, and natural gas) alone accounts for about 75 percent of annual CO2 emissions from human activities. Gasoline powered vehicles are a huge source of North American harmful carbon dioxide emissions. A major effort to positively battle global warming must therefore require serious changes from our automotive industry – in order to reduce emissions from automobiles. There are a great number of technologies that already exist. Electric cars and E-85 fuel are among these technologies. external image gem_electric_car_rental_1.jpgElectric cars will not take over until an effort has been made by us as consumers or by our government to make these automobiles cheaper (or as cheap) as gasoline vehicles and just as reliable. Incentive must exist for consumers to switch over to environmentally friendly alternatives.
How about replacing fuel, can it be done? Some people are trying. “E-85” is an alcohol fuel mixture that typically contains a mixture of up to 85% denatured fuel ethanol and gasoline or hydrocarbon by volume. The ethanol component ranges from 70% to 83%. E-85 is widely used in Sweden and is becoming increasingly popular in North America. Ethanol is corn based and so it can be naturally produced as a renewable product. All gasoline-powered cars are capable of running on E85, which should make for a smooth and easy transition into environmentally friendly fuel usage. However the problem exists that it is still more cost effective to stick with gasoline. It is expected, however, that this will change in the near future. If more money and support is given to this environmentally friendly alternative fuel, it can develop into a replacement for gasoline and consumers would save billions of dollars on gasoline, and we would reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
More money needs to be put into developing these fossil fuel alternatives - without a push, these solutions will never get off the ground.
All scientists agree that our planet is getting hotter and we are contributing to the harmful trend by outputting larger and larger amounts of heat-trapping gases. The burning of fossil fuel alone accounts for about 75% of the problems. Another 20% can be blamed on deforestation—the destruction of forests that store carbon.
Clearly procrastinating on this one is no longer an option. Scientists agree that if we wait, in as short as a decade from now, the problem will be a considerable amount more difficult to confront and the penalty for us will be that much more severe.
We are capable of reducing our contribution to global warming while creating a stronger, healthier, and more secure world – it takes everyone as individual citizens of planet earth to effect immediate change in striving for a healthier planet.


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