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Zero Carbon Sources

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Introduction

Global warming in the recent past has set itself up as a major challenge to the very life as it is known on the world. Changes in the climatic conditions have been noted as major challenges which need to be addressed with the urgency deserved and coordinated effort by governments around the world. The major cause of this alarming concern has been cited as emission of green house gases to the environment. The high carbon content from these gases and other carbon gas emitting sources have triggered global warming by changing the composition of the gases in the air by raising the carbon levels. Following this, the ozone layer continues to be depleted and the climatic conditions have changed to warm and warmer climate. The heat from the sun that reaches the earth has impacted adversely on the flora, rivers have dried and the sea level continues to rise due to the increased melting of ice from the mountain. In addition the rainy seasons have changed and even the weather patterns continue to change every day.

The kind of energy (organic fuel) we use has been cited as the major contributor to the green houses gases. Running cars, machines and industries on fuel and continued use of non renewable energy has increased the chlofluorocarbons emitted in the atmosphere. Global warming is a worldwide environmental challenge every individual country in the world emits greenhouse gases and it’s a prerogative of every government to address the challenge presented. Developed countries are slowly transforming from high carbon emitters to low carbon emitters and high energy efficient economies. Rapidly developing and growing countries are also setting themselves up to face the challenge of global warming and how to control and manage soundly the environmental impact. The share of emissions from developing economies is set to increase and if not controlled will eventually overtake those of the developed nations. The aim should be on how to reduce the emissions and most preferably attainment of zero emissions over the long term. Therefore coordinated efforts on both worlds (the developed and the developing) will be beneficial towards minimizing the carbon emissions.

A reduction of the greenhouse gases and carbon emissions needed to realize a benefit on the challenge of global warming will only happen if the developed economies take the first cue by cutting their own emissions. This clearly stipulated in the Kyoto protocol and developed countries should take responsibility as they are the leading emitters of carbon gases. They are mandated to show and to lead by example as it demonstrates that they can incorporate prosperity, care for the environment and the planet at large. First world countries are already set on a very high level of emissions and are largely responsible for the larger amount of carbon that has effected global warming.  It is unfortunate that both the second and third world countries are adversely affected by global warming. It then follows that the main objective of these nations to the climatic change strategy should be to become zero emitters of carbon in the longer term.

Discussion

Drivers to Zero Carbon Sources

Not only will it be a benefit to our environment and ensure the sustenance of life on earth but zero carbon emission will have many and multiple benefits to the human race. Some of these benefits are sampled below.

Business Drivers

The major good producing industries, house builders and automobile manufacturers are the major carbon sources in the developed and the developing nations. Consequently, there is a growing concern and culture of corporate social responsibility (CSR) from these industries. The building of green products is currently a major hype with the automobile industry taking the lead in making auto mobiles that have insignificant carbon emissions. Moreover they are managing and minimizing the carbon emissions of the new models built in order to comply with the existing protocols and standards.

The importance and necessity of CSR was shown in the World Wide Fund (Osmani and O’Reilley, 2009a, p.1919) where a survey of 20 of the UK largest housing developers revealed that 70% report publicly on their approach to sustainability and 65% have a corporate sustainability policy in place. CSR consequently has been noted to have a strong driver to zero carbon products as companies in the several industries endeavor to improve their environmental performance.  Furthermore, Carter (Osmani and O’Reilly, 1918, p.23) stated that in exceeding minimum sustainability standards, house builders can benefit from enhanced brand recognition and reputation. Other studies have expressed that achieving high standards of environmental and social performance can be an advantage for a company to attract and gain customers and maintain high caliber employees. However of great note is the manner in which the construction supply chain could have a more profound impact on the zero carbon agenda. Indeed, a study by Keeping and Shires (Osmani and O’Reilly, 2009a, p.1918) found that the supply chain is more motivated to develop green products and practices due to their marketing objectives and the market differentiation they can benefit from.

Cultural Drivers

While the demand for low carbon products is still low and the technology for producing heavy machinery that are low emitters still limited, the market area for them is seen as growing and an area of great interest. A study carried out by Sponge Sustainability Network (2007 in M. Osmani, A. O’Reilly, 1918) found that there is a growing desire amongst the UK public to adopt more sustainable lifestyles. The growth in customer demand is likely to encourage house builders to voluntarily integrate sustainable features into future developments. It is suggested that this growing low carbon culture could be built upon by government initiatives, either through the provision of fiscal incentives as recommended by Dobson ( Osmani and O’Reilly, 2009b, p.604) or the integration of sustainability factors in property valuations. Good planning policies as those detailed in the Planning Policy Statement 1 (PPS1) , and existing government policies, such as the Energy White Paper in the UK,  are geared towards promoting a long lasting effect in the industries and are also hoped to include features such as promotion of a low carbon culture and enhance them too. These policies furthermore for m the basis for new legislation to which stakeholders in these different industries seem to respond best.

Legislative Drivers

The view of future oriented legislation should be a basis proof to be a major driver and inspiration to industries and nations at large towards achieving zero carbon emissions in the production of goods, services and daily life. It is anticipated that most policies being adopted and used today if are made to be legislations, they are set to have the greatest influence on industries going green and that those who work under them stand to gain vast practical knowledge of green production and living from which they can benefit both financially and by acquiring the capability of meeting the needs by consumers for enhanced green product requirements more cost effectively. In the UK for example, Osmani and O’Reilley (2009a, p. 1918) notes that, the potential introduction of the code for sustainable homes (CSH) as legislation, along with the implementation of Energy Performance Certificates in line with the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, has been highlighted in a study by Vorsatz et al, as being highly successful in terms of reductions in carbon emissions and cost effectiveness, to the point that these measures could be major drivers for zero carbon housing.

Major steps to Zero Carbon Sources

There have been several industries and companies that have taken steps towards ensuring that green production is their major objective and thus have gone ahead to incorporate green products in their product portfolios. The automobile industry is one such with the Toyota Company producing low emission cars such as the Prius others such as Nissan have followed suit with the leaf and many more. These could be as a result of legislation in the industries and these companies are conforming to or also as a result of their care for the market and the environment as a major factor that can affect their productivity and profitability.  The world economies today are set up and rely on the many industries that produce good that are consumed in every day of our lives. Most of this industries use chemical in their production stages and also the energy they use is non renewable. The emissions by these industries is being put to check each an everyday by environmental organizations which are also lobbying the authorities to continue implementing stringent laws concerning the care of the environment. The major industry where much documented technology on curbing the emissions is seen in the housing industry. Below is a few of the technologies used and displayed in a effort of building green homes according to CHS guidelines (Working group,2007, p.23).

Housing Industry; towards building sustainable homes

Several technologies have been witnessed in multiple industries and in th UK for example the government has set an ambitious target to cut greenhouse emissions by mid century by 80% this is a key lead to many other countries both in the developed and the developing world towards becoming carbon neutral. Low and zero carbon emission strategies and technology have been made for homes and are seen today as major and minor installations in buildings and homes. Some common examples include

Biomass

This is an alternative solid fuel to the conventional fossil fuels and has an impact on carbon emissions that is close to zero. Most applications of biomass are seen as

  • Biomass boilers that replace standard gas or oil fired boilers for space heating and hot water
  • Stand alone room heaters for space heating
  • Stoves with back boilers of supplying domestic hot water and;
  • Biomass for heat and electricity

Biomass appliances can reach efficient levels of more than 80% and are made for both domestic and industrial use.

Photovoltaic Modules

These convert sunlight directly into direct current electricity and can be integrated into buildings. They are distinct from other renewable energy technologies since they have no moving parts to be maintained and are silent. They can be incorporated into buildings in several ways; on sloped roofs and flat roofs, in facades, atria and shading devices. They can be mounted on the building using frames or can be fully incorporated into the actual building fabric; for example Poly Vinyl roof tiles now available which can be fitted in place of standard tiles.

Solar hot Water

Solar thermal and especially active solar domestic hot water heating is a well established renewable energy system available in many countries. It is appropriate for both residential and non residential applications. They can be applied cost-effectively in a number on non-domestic building types such as hospitals, nursing homes, and leisure facilities, which have high demands for domestic hot water. These systems are not so cost effective in commercial building where demand for hot water is lower.

Wind energy technology

Wind power is the most successful and fastest spreading renewable energy technology with a number of individual and group installations of varying sizes, capacity and location. Traditionally, turbines are installed in non-urban areas with a strong trend for large offshore wind farms. In parallel with the design and development of ever-bigger machines which are deemed to be more efficient and cost effective, it is increasingly recognized that smaller devices installed at the point of use can play an important role in reducing carbon emissions if they become mainstream. Wind technology is currently the most cost effective renewable energy technology which can be attributed to the large scale installations reducing the unit output cost.

Other technologies

Absorption cooling

This is a technology that uses heat instead of electricity to produce a cooling effect. There is also Ground Coolingwhich uses relative constant ground temperature to provide summertime cooling through ground heat exchangers. These heat exchangers could either be air to ground or water to ground (aquifer).

Conclusion

The topic of global warming and its effects, control measures and mechanisms and how to overcome the challenge is quite a broad subject. On the other hand greenhouse emissions are a worldwide challenge and their consequences too. Thus a global effort is requires since no one nation can be able to take up the challenge alone and working together of the nations is vital to the success of minimizing the carbon emissions that go to the atmosphere. Starting with a change in attitudes and production of more green and greener products will go far towards establishing an environment sound community neutral to emissions. The over reliance on no renewable sources of energy is also another issue that needs to be addressed at large to curb on these emissions especially in production industries and motor vehicles. Building of eco friendly and sustainable homes will go a long way towards conserving our environment and checking our levels of environmental friendliness.

Establishing a world with zero carbon sources is a tasking challenge to all the governments and environmental organizations. It will take a lot of education to the communities and a lot of will and coercion to change and have a cleaner environment. This not standing it will be an expensive affair both to the governments and the people not factoring the economic conditions as they are now but it is a step that must be taken. Greater rewards stand to be reaped when finally we go to a green environment full of green products and mindsets.

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