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Use natural resources in moderation to help planet

It is absolutely impossible to deny that our planet's ecosystems are being threatened by the global harvesting of natural resources. There have been movies made and countless statistics published in support of the existence of this energy crisis. The natural world as we know it is governed by the transformation of energy. We use energy to heat and cool our homes, to run our vehicles, to light our buildings and to run factories that create products we have the luxury of purchasing. The root of this energy crisis is the usage of natural resources such as coal, petroleum, oil and timber to meet our energy demands faster than these resources can be replaced by nature. Also, humans' use of such resources increases the greenhouse effect on the Earth, heating the atmosphere and disrupting ecosystems that have been around for years before our existence. Obviously, if this situation continues on a steady pace — even without an increase in resource use because of the demand of an ever-increasing world population — the Earth's resources will be on track to an inevitable total depletion. Many countries, such as the United States and China, which have enough capital to begin switching to an alternative and renewable energy solution, have been taking initiative to find ways to convert our main energy sources to renewable ones. The main sources that cannot be depleted in the foreseeable future are geothermal energy, solar energy, wave energy and wind energy. The problem is we are still dependent on nonrenewable energy sources.

This is a global problem. The United States attempts to be the biggest and best nation in the world, which also makes us the largest contributors to the possible end of the world. That may sound pretty drastic. But given the fact that, according to the World Bank's World Development Indicators in 2007, the United States used seven times more energy — measured in oil equivalent per capita — in 2007 (7,759kg) than China (1,484kg), the most populated nation in the world, it becomes a little less hard to believe. Even India, the second most populated location in the world, has energy use data that pales in comparison to the United States, with a meager 529 kg. The problem lies with the fact that our nation, the biggest user of energy in the world, gets most of its energy and resources from non-renewable energy sources which are becoming scarcer and creating quantifiable harmful side effects on the planet. The nation's economy is reliant upon fossil fuels and coal because their usages have been historically ingrained in our society and in the inventions of today. To reinvent and renovate existing inventions to be more energy efficient has been put on the nation's moral agenda, but the way to spark a bigger initiative is to get the nation's people involved. More people need to voice their opinions about being more energy efficient to influence lawmakers and our federal government.

What the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group's (NJPIRG) Energy Service Corps (ESC) is trying to accomplish can help do just that. By spreading awareness to University students and the surrounding New Brunswick community, they are helping to create that spark. They have thus far educated hundreds of K-12 students in the New Brunswick community about the energy issues facing the world today and informed them of what they can do as individuals and with their families to help save the planet. Reaching out to the younger generations is one of — if not the best — ways of spreading awareness and bringing about a change that will persevere after older generations move on. ESC also has a program to help save people of the New Brunswick community up to 30 percent on their energy bills through free weatherizations. Weatherizations include tactics like sealing up cracks in windows and helping households be more energy efficient through actions as simple as changing incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent lamps. NJPIRG is made of volunteers and interns who believe promoting energy efficiency is worth the stigma they received from the University community because of the fall referendum. This is our one and only planet and we share it with many more species. We are not separate from our environment. Instead, we are a part of it as much as other organisms, so it is up to all of us to use energy and resources in moderation and to share the planet the way nature intended.

Jelan Coley is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student.

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