Humans have discovered a number of power production techniques because of various challenges they encounter in their lives (Craddock, 2008). They have constructed hydro power plants, nuclear power plants, wind turbines, fossil fuel power plants, and geothermal power plants to harness water power, nuclear energy, wind power, fossil energy, and geothermal power respectively. However, some places on the earth’s surface may not be able to support the production of power (Craddock, 2008). For instance, many places on Earth do not have reliable courses of strong wind, geysers, oil deposits, large rivers, and nuclear power production technology. This discussion will compare the environmental effects of various power production techniques, as well as consider a balanced approach to the production of power considering environmental effects and cost of production.
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Various power production techniques from hydro power plants, nuclear power plants, wind turbines, fossil fuel power plants, and geothermal power plants may lead to devastating environmental effects (Craddock, 2008). The power production technique for hydroelectric power involves the construction of dams across large and permanent rivers. Water reservoirs behind the dams support breeding of parasites, such as mosquitoes, which carry germs that cause malaria and elephantiasis to the people residing in the vicinity of the dams (Breeze, 2005). The phenomenon is common in tropical regions because of warm temperatures that favor the survival of mosquitoes. Construction of large dams may lead to the displacement of wildlife and people from their native lands. Large reservoirs may lead to the wastage of agricultural lands, thereby affecting land use (Craddock, 2008). However, production of hydroelectric power may not lead to environmental pollution.
Nuclear power production techniques lead to the production of large amounts of electricity. However, nuclear power production has been possible in few industrialized nations because of high production and waste disposition technologies (Breeze, 2005). Research has shown that many power plants that produce nuclear power release liquid and gaseous radiological wastes into the environment (Mazurkiewicz, 2007). Emissions from the nuclear power plants are extremely dangerous to humans, plants, and animals. Research has shown that nuclear power production may put people at risk of developing deadly diseases, such as cancer (Mazurkiewicz, 2007). Leakage of nuclear radiation has devastating environmental effects, including mutation among human beings, animals, and plants. The Chernobyl disaster serves as an example of devastating environmental impacts of nuclear power production (Miller & Spoolman, 2009).
Production techniques for wind power involve the establishment of wind turbines, which require strong foundations (Breeze, 2005). The foundations for wind turbines may alter the use of a piece of land. People will not establish forests and large buildings around the wind power production turbines because they may block wind. Therefore, establishment of wind turbines may require clearance of land to avoid the blockage of wind courses. Deforestation may lead to the destruction of watersheds. However, production techniques for wind power may not result in environmental pollution, because they do not lead to the emission of greenhouse gases (Breeze, 2005).
Power production techniques for fossil energy require the establishment of fossil power plants. These plants depend on the combustion of fossil fuels produce electricity. Fossil fuels serve as the primary sources of energy in the world (Craddock, 2008). However, the power production techniques for fossil energy have devastating environmental effects, because they lead to the production of large amounts of greenhouse gases every year. The presence of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere leads to global warming. This has a close association with droughts, unpredictable patterns of precipitation, and elevated daily temperatures (Craddock, 2008). Transportation of petroleum products may also lead to environmental pollution, especially when water vessels leak. Aquatic life will suffer when large quantities of oil spread on water bodies.
Production techniques for geothermal power involve the establishment of powerful steam turbines and firm foundations (Breeze, 2005). Establishment of geothermal power projects calls for deforestation and displacement of people, especially when there is a need to expand the projects. Agricultural activities may suffer, because the expansion of geothermal power projects leads to the reduction of agricultural land (Craddock, 2008). Rotating turbines produce disturbing noises to the people residing in the vicinity of the geothermal production plants. Geothermal power plants produce high levels of dust particles into the atmosphere, which may cause eye problems, respiratory disease, just to mention a few (Craddock, 2008).
It has been evident that the production of hydroelectric power, nuclear power, wind power, fossil power, and geothermal power has environmental effects to life on Earth. However, environmental impacts due to the production of hydroelectric power, nuclear power, wind power, fossil power, and geothermal power may be different (Breeze, 2005). The power production techniques for wind and hydroelectric power do not release pollutants, such as greenhouse gases and dust particles, into the atmosphere. However, this is not the case with the production of fossil power and geothermal power, which results in the release of carbon dioxide and dust particles respectively (Breeze, 2005). The production techniques for nuclear power prove to be the most dangerous. Experiments have shown that nuclear radiation has adverse effects on the genetic makeup of the entire animal or plant generation (Mazurkiewicz, 2007). Production and waste disposal techniques in the nuclear power plants require extremely high technology (Miller & Spoolman, 2009). Establishment of wind power turbines, geothermal power plants, and hydroelectric power plants may lead to displacement of wild animals and people, as well as alteration of land use.
A balanced approach to the production of power considering environmental effects and cost of production is necessary (Mazurkiewicz, 2007). The government should compensate people upon displacement due to the establishment of power plants, such as hydroelectric power plants, geothermal power plants, and wind turbines. This will ensure that individuals continue with their lives comfortably. Power production plants for fossil fuel power, geothermal power, and nuclear power should adopt appropriate technologies for ensuring protection of humans, animals, plants, and aquatic life from the waste products and emissions (Mazurkiewicz, 2007). Therefore, the government should consider the impacts of any power production project before establishment.
In conclusion, various power production techniques have environmental effects on humans, animals, plants, and aquatic life (Breeze, 2005). Different power production plants may have different environmental effects, which depends on the utilized resources and waste products. However, careful management of the power production plants may lead to reduced environmental effects. The government should make sure that the benefits of power production outweigh the resultant environmental problems (Mazurkiewicz, 2007).
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