Energy... an overview

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We are now quite far from the time when our societies relied on physical strength and cattle to produce goods that were essential in order to feed ourselves, to keep us warm and to ensure we had a roof over our heads.

Various inventions allowed for a facilitated work throughout History, but it is the industrial revolution (17th century), with the increasing popularity of the steam engine and the coal combustion that was required for them to work, that would propel our nations’ productivity to great heights. Almost three centuries later, petroleum and natural gas, to only name a few, were added to the list of fossil energies exploited by human kind. Non renewables, these resources are quickly depleted and urge us to constantly look for more and more again, as far as we can. Moreover, greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels led as early as the 20th century to an raise of temperatures worldwide, causing what we are today calling climate change.


In addition to climate change occuring because of the greenhouse effect, other consequences of burning fossil fuels are observed, such as the rejection of fine particles in the atmosphere, which are not only precursors of smog but also responsible for the amplification of many respiratory conditions such as asthma. Beyond observable effects of climate change on human health is also a plethora of other factors often corollary with these phenomenons such as bank erosion, loss of natural environments and loss of biodiversity.


There are also many socio-economic consequences. Over 14 billion dollars leave Quebec each year for oil companies that provide our province in fuel (RNCREQ, 2014). The unsure geopolitical situation of producer countries, the uncertainty regarding the fall of oil reserves and the potential imbalance between supply and demand may cause an upsurge in pump price as well as our economic dependence towards some producer countries. For many Quebec households with a lower economic level, the impact of raising prices in gasoline or fuel represents an ever growing financial stress.


If Quebec wishes to avoid natural, societal and economic disasters resulting from burning fossil fuels, it is imperative to establish measures that will enable us to reduce our dependency. The benefits of such actions would be plentiful ; a raise in productivity (thanks to energy efficiency measures and a reduction of operating costs), an increased energetic security made possible by the growing use of our hydroelectric power, job creation thanks to Quebec know-how and, lastly, powerful tools for the fight against climate change.


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