& Energy Conservation
Ecology is the study of environmental
systems, or as it is sometimes called, the economy of nature.
"Environmental" usually means relating to the natural, versus
human-made world; the "systems" means that ecology is, by its very
nature, not interested in just the components of nature individually but
especially in how the parts interact. Ecology is technically an academic
discipline, such as mathematics or physics, although in public or media use, it
is often used to connote some sort of normative or evaluative issue as in
something is “ecologically bad” or is or is not “good for the ecology”. More
properly ecology is used only in the sense that it is an academic discipline,
no more evaluative than mathematics or physics. When a normative or evaluative
term is needed then it is more proper to use the term “environmental”, i.e.,
environmental quality or “environmentally degrading”. Most professional
ecologists are not terribly unhappy when ecology is used in the normative
sense, preferring the wider public awareness of environmental issues today
compared to the widespread ignorance of three decades ago.
The subject matter of ecology is normally divided onto
four broad categories: physiological ecology, having to do with the response of
single species to environmental conditions such as temperature or light;
population ecology, usually focusing on the abundance and distribution of
individual species and the factors that cause such distribution; community
ecology, having to do with the number of species found at given location and
their interactions; and ecosystems ecology, having to do with the structure and
function of the entire suite of microbes, plants, and animals, and their
abiotic environment, and how the parts interact to generate the whole. This
branch of ecology often focuses on the energy and nutrient flows of ecosystems,
and when this approach is combined with computer analysis and simulation we
often call it systems ecology. Evolutionary ecology, which may operate at any of
these levels but most commonly at the physiological or population level, is a
rich and dynamic area of ecology focusing on attempting to understand how
natural selection developed the structure and function of the organisms and
ecosystems at any of these levels.
Energy conservation refers to efforts
made to reduce energy consumption. Energy conservation can be achieved through
increased efficient energy use, in conjunction with decreased energy
consumption and/or reduced consumption from conventional energy sources.
Energy conservation can result in increased financial
capital, environmental quality, national security, personal security, and human
comfort. Individuals and organizations that are direct consumers of energy
choose to conserve energy to reduce energy costs and promote economic security.
Industrial and commercial users can increase energy use efficiency to maximize
Issues with energy conservation
Advocates and critics of various forms and policies of
energy conservation debate some issues, such as:
Standard economic theory suggests that technological
improvements increase energy efficiency, rather than reduce energy use. This is
called the Jevons Paradox and it is said to occur in two ways. Firstly,
increased energy efficiency makes the use of energy relatively cheaper, thus
encouraging increased use. Secondly, increased energy efficiency leads to
increased economic growth, which pulls up energy use in the whole economy. This
does not imply that increased fuel efficiency is worthless, increased fuel
efficiency enables greater production and a higher quality of life. However, in
order to reduce energy consumption, efficiency gains must be paired with a
government intervention that reduces demand (a green tax, cap and trade).
Some retailers argue that bright lighting stimulates
purchasing. However, health studies have demonstrated that headache, stress,
blood pressure, fatigue and worker error all generally increase with the common
over-illumination present in many workplace and retail settings. It has been
shown that natural daylighting increases productivity levels of workers, while
reducing energy consumption.
The use of telecommuting by major corporations is a
significant opportunity to conserve energy, as many Americans now work in service
jobs that enable them to work from home instead of commuting to work each day.
Electric motors consume more than 60% of all electrical
energy generated and are responsible for the loss of 10 to 20% of all
electricity converted into mechanical energy.
Consumers are often poorly informed of the savings of
energy efficient products. The research one must put into conserving energy
often is too time consuming and costly when there are cheaper products and
technology available using today's fossil fuels. Some governments and NGOs are
attempting to reduce this complexity with ecolabels that make differences in
energy efficiency easy to research while shopping.
Technology needs to be able to change behavioural
patterns, it can do this by allowing energy users, business and residential, to
see graphically the impact their energy use can have in their workplace or
homes. Advance real-time energy metering is able to help "people"
save energy by their actions. Rather than become wasteful automatic energy saving
technologies, real-time energy monitors and meters Electrical energy
conservation is an important element of energy policy. Energy conservation
reduces the energy consumption and energy demand per capita and thus offsets
some of the growth in energy supply needed to keep up with population growth.
This reduces the rise in energy costs, and can reduce the need for new power
plants, and energy imports. The reduced energy demand can provide more
flexibility in choosing the most preferred methods of energy production.