By Maya Henry, 8th grade
When you think of energy, your mind might jump to a picture of a lab or scientists working with chemicals. Maybe, and, let’s be honest, you have absolutely no clue what to think. Energy is something we use in our day to day life constantly. From the first time we flip on our lights in the morning to when we finish using our electric tooth-brush at night, energy, for many of us, has become nothing more than a subconscious “thing.”
Regardless of what you think of, when you think of energy, I’m almost positive the image of a roaring ocean doesn’t come to mind.
Why is that?
Though many claim it is not true, our world is battling an ever-present energy shortage that is a direct consequence of overpopulation and overconsumption of energy. Non-renewable energy resources such as coal and oil are being mined and drilled at unfathomable and unsustainable rates, so much so, that Ecotricity predicts in just 53 years, the world could be out of oil and coal. Forever.
This idea poses a question that desperately needs an answer: what is our world to do once we are without the two largest and most popular energy providers? An energy-less US, much less world, simply isn’t conceivable, but without coal and oil, what do we turn to?
This is when that image of the vast sea comes into play.
Though rarely used for such purposes, the ocean actually produces two types of energy (mechanical energy from waves and tides, and thermal energy from the Sun’s heat) at ridiculously high rates and could solve this energy crisis in a flash.
Think about it: roughly 71% of the world is covered in ocean, and even with rising sea levels, until the Big Crunch occurs and the Earth implodes, the oceans are here to stay. Thus, ocean energy is a reliable and renewable resource. Additionally, while coal and oil deposits can be found in only select locations throughout the world leading to some countries advancing and thus, prospering, more than other countries, the five oceans touch every continent. If ocean energy was used, the energy privilege certain nations hold would be eliminated as would any conflict that results from that privilege.
The process of extracting energy from the ocean also releases no greenhouse gasses and is entirely green. Compare that to the process of using coal as energy, which includes extracting coal from fossil fuels and disturbing the sediment around it. This process releases tons and tons of dangerous emissions that are harmful to humans and the environment.
The cherry on top? A single meter of a wave can hold up to 100 kilowatts of energy that can be sold (raising economies), used (providing energy to the world and helping stop the energy crisis), and saved (creating a “rainy day” fund for future generations). If these benefits are from one portion of one wave in one ocean, imagine the amount of energy and revenue that could be produced if all oceans were used for energy production.
To put the product of one meter of a wave in perspective: a whole pound of coal is needed to produce a single kilowatt of energy. That energy comes from fossil fuels, whereas turning one meter of a wave into energy produces no emissions.
So, really, why has the whole world not jumped on the ocean-energy bandwagon yet?
Well, nothing is perfect, including this energy alternative. While ocean energy is sustainable, renewable, powerful, and environmentally conscious, it, unfortunately, is a relatively new idea and is only possible through new technology. The youthful stage of the equipment needed makes it more expensive. The truth of the matter is many governments would rather kill the Earth and leave an energy-deprived world for future generations than spend large amounts of money on new ideas.
At the end of the day, we can solve the energy crisis, aid the battle against climate change, and power the planet by harnessing the ocean’s infinite energy, but not without a fight. Until the world is devoid of those who prioritize their pocketbooks over the planet they live on, it is vital to continue to learn about ocean energy and combat for it to be harnessed on a larger scale.
The ocean has saved us so many times; we now must campaign for it to save us again.