Why Renewables?

Why is it important to transition to renewable energy?

There are many reasons as to why the transition to renewable energy will play a crucial role in our society’s pursuit of a cleaner future. The reasons vary across time, space, and culture, and so this article will choose two to elaborate on.

Renewable Energy is a necessary (and sensible) economic decision

In recent decades, renewable energy has become an increasingly competitive alternative to its non-renewable counterparts. On one hand, the cost of the prominent renewable energy sources (photovoltaic solar, wind turbine) have plummeted. Advances in technology and supporting infrastructure promise to continue to drive down these costs even further. On the other hand, non-renewable fossil fuel prices, namely oil, have grown increasingly volatile and are subject to future volatility and price fluctuations in the coming decades (note: while natural gas and coal prices have remained relatively stable, changes in legislative agenda, i.e. a carbon tax, could soon change this, and wavering support for nuclear energy could play out similarly). As such, this double movement一 decreasing renewable energy costs and increasing fossil fuel volatility一 favors the widespread implementation of renewable energy. For a stable and sensible economic future, renewable energy is the increasingly clear way to go.

Cleaner energy means a cleaner environment, for all

One type of environmental injustice is the pollution or other degradation of the natural environment in an area that is inhabited by a historically marginalized group of people. Scholars widely acknowledge that the United States has chronically struggled with such environmental injustices. For example, a study by Yale University found that in the United States, people of color are more likely to live in an area that has higher levels of air pollution than their white counterparts ( There have been many similar studies, encompassing topics ranging from proximity to landfills and processing plants, to exposure from specific pollutants. The evidence has unequivocally shown that environmental pollution disproportionately impacts marginalized and minority communities. The air pollution from fossil fuels plays a role in perpetuating these inequities, and so the transition to cleaner renewable energy is indispensable. This is a hard reality for our community, and one that must be addressed in the pursuit of a more equitable and sustainable future, for everyone.

Article written by Eric West, Undergraduate at Cornell University

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