Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Rice University have developed the darkest material ever made by man. The substance can be used to make solar energy conversion much more efficient. This development is another reminder of the need to switch to sustainable and renewable energy sources.
The question has to be asked whether it is necessary for companies to pollute the environment – as well as the people around their facilities – to offer the many strange and wondrous things that come with having electricity.
This new material’s threat to diminish energy profits presents to the American people a real moral dilemma: Whether to allow companies and governments to risk the health and life of this planet by not switching to sustainable energy or demand a change in how we use this planet’s resources toward a sustainable and environmentally conscious future.
Pollution is having an undeniable effect on our planet’s ecosystems, including changing levels of evaporation, extreme weather and changing the size and composition of the ocean. However, the repercussions that are not usually discussed in discourse on the environmental crisis are the human costs, the greatest risk of course being to the people of Africa who will face certain drought and starvation from the devastating changes to rain patterns
These kinds of crises are not good for the stability of human civilization, as a shortage of resources is often the source of conflict between warring peoples, and is a known contributing factor to the genocide in Darfur.
The American South’s agricultural industry may also be affected by climate change as temperatures rise and weather patterns shift.
Rising sea levels could lead to floods all around the world, as well as the destruction of homes, businesses, and human lives. Extreme weather can also have effects on transport and migration patterns. As resources dry up and farmers, the poor and those who depend on stable shorelines are forced elsewhere, people and their waste will be gathered into decreasing space.
At the same time, more severe temperature changes would cause the roads to crack and pipelines to be modified for more extreme conditions. This can have devastating effects on air and water cleanliness as well as human health and safety. The disasters and destruction caused by extreme weather also leads to higher insurance prices, with every rise of 1 percent in annual precipitation could increase catastrophe loss by up to 2.8 percent, according to the scientific journal Climate Change.
One cannot deny that the poor in all countries will be the most severely affected. They are much less likely to be able to afford a vehicle in the event of a natural disaster evacuation, medical attention in the event of an injury or illness, and food as rising costs and diminishing resources make shopping at a grocery store a much bigger drain on finances.
The problem of global warming is also a factor in the problem of global warring, as former presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich once put it. The competition over resources and the pocketbooks of the masses have led some groups – the most notable being the United States government – to participate in human rights abuses such as war, genocide, nation-building and dictatorship-backing and befriending. It’s no secret that the U.S. government has an interest in securing the oil reserves of Iraq and Afghanistan to help people other than the citizens of those countries, and it’s no secret that this same entity has backed and allied with ruthless regimes, including the rule of the House of Saud in Saudi Arabia and the dictatorship in Pakistan because they had environmental and trade policies that the American government favors.
It’s time for the American people to demand an end to the grip the unclean energy industry has on our government and to amplify the call for a shift from reckless, wasteful and even dangerous environmental and foreign policies to ones that make sense and have human and environmental safety at the core of concern.
Jose Ferrer is a sophomore majoring in sociology.