Techno Science revised final

Techno Science revised final - Edward Pierz A39320814 Soc...

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Edward Pierz A39320814 Soc 452 Dec 1 2009 Techno Science Paper Our rapidly developing technical society uses vast amounts of resources. The current trend of consumption can be traced back to the industrial revolution. At the start of the industrial revolution global consumption and demand were initially sustainable because of the relatively small population and low, but rising levels of affluence. Since that time, the world population has exploded, growing by 566 percent since 1850. As a direct result, environmental degradation is now a tangible threat, and people are demanding solutions. Because industrial capitalism is entrenched in our society it cannot be easily changed. Therefore we must better utilize a concept from classical economics, technological change, to stop rising consumption trends and to create a “fix” for our environment. Recently public sentiment has been increasingly critical of the use of fossil fuels and other non renewable resources, and growing focus has been placed on renewable recourses. Most scientist and captains of industry have focused on technologies, some more exotic than others, to mitigate the damages that our lifestyle creates. For this literature review, I chose to specifically focus on the issue of rare earth elements, in addition to the devices that use them and their affect on society. These two topics are essential to a discourse on efficiency. Energy is a fundamental necessity demanded by society. Energy is required to produce nearly all consumable goods, transportation, heating and cooling, and even the
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consumption of many goods. Without readily available sources of energy society would grind to a halt. Even the most primitive societies use energy, other than what is required by the human body, that they extract from the environment, usually in the form of biomass which is burned for heat energy. The industrial revolution, and the rapid increase in global affluence was made possible by a then newly utilized form of energy, coal. Coal and the combustion engine made it possible to harness energy which was readily available and inexpensive. In time, other fossil fuels were harnessed through combustion to power a rapidly expanding society. However, fossil fuels are not renewable resources and burning them is a relatively inefficient, way of extracting energy from the environment. Over the next few centuries fossil fuel's growth increased exponentially along with a population and GDP even as their limitations began to show in both ecological and economic terms.
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Human use of fossil fuels is extremely inefficient because most of the energy stored in the chemical bonds is lost when it is transformed. Thermodynamics can be used to simply explain power generation from combustion. Combustion of fossil fuels is extremely enthalpic, but much of the reaction energy is wasted by creating excess heat with cannot be captured. Even in the most efficient and modern power plants 35% thermodynamic efficiency is considered normal. That means 65% of all the energy
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Techno Science revised final - Edward Pierz A39320814 Soc...

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