Hesperian Health Guides

Chapter 23: Clean Energy

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HealthWiki > A Community Guide to Environmental Health > Chapter 23: Clean Energy

In a thatched shelter, 2 children read under an electric light.

It takes energy to light a home, to cook a meal, to lift and carry water, and to do all of the things we do every day. Sometimes this energy is human energy, such as the strength to walk, chop wood, or lift a bucket. Often this energy comes in the form of electricity to power lights, water pumps, fans, and other machines.

Electricity makes our lives and our work easier. It allows us to have light to work and study by, refrigeration to keep food and medicines cool so they do not spoil, washing machines, drills, and so on to make work easier, and radio and television to keep us informed and entertained. All these things can make our lives healthier and more comfortable.

Unfortunately, access to electricity is a far-off dream for many people. Most of the electricity used in the world is in cities and the wealthy countries of the North. Of the world’s 6 billion people, 2 billion have no electricity.

We also use energy for transportation, usually from fossil fuels such as gasoline (petrol) or diesel to power automobiles, buses, trucks, railroads, and airplanes. As with electricity, the wealthy countries of the North use more than their fair share of transportation fuel.

To prevent pollution and to reduce global warming, the world must burn less less oil, coal, and natural gas. Especially people in rich countries, who use too much, must use less. For everyone to have enough electricity and transportation without increasing global warming, we must change to non-polluting power sources (clean energy, also called renewable energy). These include wind power, solar power, water power, and biogas.