Power Hogs
by Leyana Dessauer

How many things that have to be plugged in and are used every day can you think of? There are lights, computers, printers and phones. Kitchens have blenders, toasters, microwaves and dishwashers. TVs, wash ers and dryers are all used daily - and they use plenty of electricity. Without the huge amounts of electricity people depend on for all those electrical appliances, our lives would be completely different.

The problem is that most of the elec tricity we use is made by burning fossil fuels that pollute the earth. More than 50% of power in New York State comes from natural gas, coal and oil (29% is nuclear). These energy sources (aside from being non-renewable and running out fast) are responsible for about 1/3 of greenhouse gases present in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases are gasses including carbon dioxide that are now in the atmosphere in dangerously high quantities. They create an invisible blanket around the earth, trapping warmth from the sun's rays instead of letting it radiate out from the earth. As the earth's temperature rises, glaciers melt, sea levels go up and weather patterns change drastically. This can cause floods, droughts, hurricanes, tsunamis and other natural disasters. Global warming takes away animals' habitats and changes the climates they need to survive. Arctic and Antarctic species are particularly affected - their homes are melting. Plant species are also hurt by climate change. Our convenient power usage has a price - the Earth's health.

The technology to make green power is already in existence, and some is in use. Around 20% of New York's power is made from renewable resources, mostly large-scale hydro. Using less electricity is also very important. Small actions like turning off lights when not needed, hang-drying laundry and unplugging TVs and computers when not in use will help save electricity. The less electricity used the better, because in order to curb global warming we need to stop burning fossil fuels altogether. Obviously this does not appeal to anyone involved in the oil industry. Fossil fuels are now the biggest commodity in the world.

It's very scary growing up on a planet that's suffering so much and knowing that the earth is in trouble, because of us. But we do have the means to make and use power differently. The question is, will we?

Leyana is 13, home schooled, and loves read- ing, writing, horseback riding, and nature.