Towards a future global change in energy sources: a reflection on the possible depletion on non-renewables resources and some feasible solutions.
In the Wilderness Among The Men
Depletion of non-renewable resources like oil,coal and natural gas. Mindless exploitation of renewable natural resources like forests, water, air, soil.
Overpopulation. Global warming and CO2 emissions. Man’s impact on nature has gradually increased in the last few centuries, spreading over a global scale in the past thirty years.
Our socio-economic metabolism – the system of material and energy flows involved in the production of goods andservices – has exceeded the planet’s physical capacity. Yet a discussion of material and energy brings to mind the first law of thermodynamics, which states two fundamental principles:
- Energy cannot be created (ΔEG = 0)
- Energy cannot be destroyed (ΔED = 0)
Energy-mass can be neither created nor destroyed; it can be transformed, changed from one form to another, it can be transferred from one body to another, it can be accumulated or released, but it remains constant: its quantity is always the same, what changes is its quality.
On the Earth, energy derives largely from the sun, processes are cyclical and materials are continually transformed. So if we assume that the planet’s production logic is based on permanent transformation, we can be justified in hoping for a future of “global recycling”, where man turns into energy not only the riches provided by nature, but also everything he himself produces by converting his anthropic resources, in a continuous life cycle. This means, however, that we have to believe in the power of science andtechnological progress, trust in their ability to conserve the natural environment. The question therefore arises: is there some “natural” limit to what man can do?
Man has always modified the environment to create favorable conditions for his survival and well-being. His gradual progress over the centuries has provided him with increasingly effective and powerful tools to adapt nature to his needs. The evolution of the planet is characterized, nonetheless, by an ability to support sometimes devastating artificial or natural change and,over time, subsequently re-establish an ecological equilibrium. And, despite our enormous talents, we are unable to change the fundamental rule of environmental balance: all we can do is employ our rationality to steer our activities toward a wiser form of respect for the workings of nature. The concept of “wisdom” is the root and cornerstone of the new discipline of environmental philosophy: the study of mankind’s moral relations with the environment and its non-human content. For simplicity, the many and varied positions of environmental philosophers are often grouped into two main intellectual categories: an “anthropocentric” or “man-oriented” school, and a “biocentric” or “life-oriented” school.
Without getting into all the intricacies of the philosophical debate on the intrinsic value parity/disparity between anthropic and natural environments, man, and the human mind, are certainly the most complex biological structure on the Earth. Man will not be able to respect the environment until he learns to respect himself and the whole of mankind: to see himself as a part of the world system and realize that his “primacy” lies in his responsibility toward other living and non-living things, and toward the good of the future generations.