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Earth Day 2023 . . . This year the shift to renewable and sustainable energy sources is again paramount in environment discussions

At VeriFresh, our mission is to create healthier oral care regimens by inventing more efficient and effective natural oral care solutions.

We are equally concerned with the environment and the negative externalities of burning fossil fuels which affects the health of all of us.

On Earth Day, we allow ourselves a more expansive view of the environmental challenges facing the world and what changes have occurred over the past year affecting our environment.

Recently, alternative energy sources have returned to the center of environmental discourse.  The economics of energy sources has been paramount to environmental considerations for 50 years since the first Arab-led oil supply embargo.

In recent years, due to abundant supply, the price of energy has become less critical and the environmental impact of carbon-based fuels has gained in importance and some argue has become the main factor in energy decisions.

Over the past year, supply chains in the carbon-based fuel market have been curtailed due to the war that Russia has started in Ukraine which caused many countries, chiefly EU members, to begin to search for alternate sources for oil and gas and to redouble their efforts to scale alternate means of energy production to reach cost-effectiveness.

Though it seems that we have made much progress in developing and commercializing renewable and sustainable energy sources in recent years, the fact remains that In 2023, 80% of our energy still comes from non-renewable fossil fuels:

Coal, gas and oil.

Renewed investment in renewable and sustainable energy sources include more efficient technologies in the following areas:

Solar, wind, geothermal, hydro and nuclear.

Some may shrink at the suggestion that nuclear should be included in this list.  Indeed, countries such as Germany have just completed a long-promised shut down of all of their nuclear power plants, though some of their neighbor, France, has kept generating nuclear power as part of their energy supply mix.  Recent re-examination of nuclear fuel has caused many to consider the energy source – uranium – as being in the same league as more traditional renewable sources.

The case has been made that in a model of breeder nuclear reactors, which can produce more energy than they consume, the timeline of depletion of the sources of uranium fuel vs. hydrogen (the fuel upon which the sun is powered) and wind (which depends upon the interaction of heat and cold) are similar.  I.e. around 5 billion years.

So the nuclear energy debate should be framed as an issue of waste treatment and risk management not so much as a fuel-source issue.

Whether or not you subscribe to this definition, the lines of division are becoming blurred.  New technologies will also demand a renewed examination of energy sources which we have labeled using old definitions.

Internationally, political shifts have changed the demand and supply equations for energy over the past 3-5 years.  These shifts are brought on by a combination of war, changes in strategic international balance and the Covid 19 pandemic.

Many would put their faith in technological solutions alone, but it is more likely that a range of solutions will come both from here as well as astute political stewardship and policy changes.

Over the last few decades, the environmental movement has made previously obscure concepts part of our daily discourse.  Terms such as global warming, carbon neutral, ozone, green-house gas renewable energy and sustainable energy – terms which were virtually unknown to the population at the dawn of the environmental movement in the 60’s and 70’s – are now part of every elementary school child’s vocabulary.

The combination greater awareness and economic necessity will undoubtedly lead to the critical inflection point in the next 2-3 decades when sustainable energy sources nudge out traditional fossil fuels.  This will make energy generation safer and cheaper to produce, the air we breath and water we drink cleaner and the worry about dwindling energy sources a thing of the past.