According to Flexas, Francesco, and Hipólito (99), environmental system is defined as a geographic and environmental intelligence consultancy that is backed by cross-sector collaboration and regular research activity with the primary purpose of leveraging the earth observation as well as mapping expertise. This can help the government to and corporate to better management and understanding of the environment. In the ecological sense, environmental system may be understood as a set of interactions that exist between various elements of the biosphere such as the lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, as well as the ecosphere (Willis and Brad 120). The earth’s atmosphere is particularly a mixture of various gaseous molecules such as nitrogen, oxygen and others in the ratio of 78%, 21%, and 1% respectively; the others contain components such as water vapor, argon, carbon dioxide and so on. The earth’s hydrosphere is basically water accumulated in its all states (solid, liquids and gas) inclusive of other dissolved elements such as calcium, magnesium, sulphate, chlorides, sodium and so on. The earth’s ecosphere consists of all living organisms including animals and vegetation.
There are various examples of environmental systems, energy system being one of them – this system (the energy system) essentially involves the movement, capture, use, as well as storage of energy in its various forms. In the energy system, energy, in different forms, moves from the abiotic environment to the life using the photosynthesis process, which takes place in plants. In this system, energy is packaged into a simple organic compound such as starch and glucose through the photosynthesis process. The end-product, organic molecules can be used immediately or stored for future use.
When the principle of mass balance is used to analysis the energy system, the result indicates that the total mass of the physical system is conserved: the total volume of each element sued in the process is conserved. The light energy, carbon dioxide, and water are used as the inputs, which are changed in the chemical reaction to produce two outputs namely oxygen and glucose or starch. Six volumes of carbon dioxide and six volumes of water are used to produce six volumes of oxygen and one volume of glucose as shown by the chemical formula below.
6CO2 + 6H2O + light energy = C6H12O6 + 6O2
Through this energy system, light energy is converted into chemical energy that can be passed on to other living components of the environmental system. This is achieved through two mechanisms namely the decomposition or the biomass consumption process. The chemical energy is stored and can be used later when needed for metabolic processes of the living organism in the environmental system; it is often used for metabolic processes to do various kinds of works such as fermentation and respiration among others. This energy also fuels a number of processes such as the weathering of rocks to form soil, the movement of air to form wind, the tectonic creation of mountains, as well as the formation of precipitation; all these processes directly derive their energy from the biotic energy system. It is essential to note that the movement of this energy in the environmental system obeys thermodynamic laws.
Even though it continues to play significant roles in the functioning and development of world’s economy, many issues are currently facing the energy system. However, the major issue concerns the overproduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The increasing trend towards an integrated global economy, urbanization, and increased mobility through the use of fossil fuels have accelerate the rapid increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide thus creating an imbalance in the energy system. The amount of carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere has increased to an amount that cannot be fully absorbed through the photosynthesis process to maintain the balance; this has resulted in increased climate change as well as air pollution.
Climate change is rapidly transforming the life on earth as can be noticed by changes on seasons, temperatures, and vegetation among others. Globally, it can be noticed that sea levels are rising, temperatures are increasing, and seasons are shifting. The supply of all the necessary things such as clean air, food, water, and safe living places are getting more scarce every day. It is worrying that the climate change is rapidly altering the waters and lands which all living organisms depends on for survival. Some of the most feared consequences of climate change include economic losses, changing landscapes, higher temperatures, wildlife at risk, rising seas, increased storm damage, more heat-related disease, as well as increased risk of drought, fire, and floods.
According to Deaton and James (78), a number of measures are currently being used to address the problem, the first being the use of renewable energy such as solar power and hydroelectric power instead of fossil fuels. In addition, the world is steadily seeking for new sources of renewable energy and alternative measures of reducing carbon dioxide emission to the atmosphere. The world is encouraged to be energy efficient as an essential mechanism of reducing the impact of climate change. For instance, the use of LED bulbs to replace the fluorescent bulbs is highly encouraged because it conserves energy. Families and industries around the world are encouraged to choose renewable source of power instead of overdependence on fossil fuels such as petrol, paraffin and so on; a good suggestion is the switch to wind and solar power. Farmers are also encouraged to plant native, drought resistant crops, shrubs and trees around their homes and farms.
It is a major concern that there are few ideas of making the energy system more sustainable, largely due to the overreliance on the use of fossil fuels. At the moment, the dire concern about the sustainability of the world’s environment. Sustainability is all about meeting the desires of the existing generation without necessarily affecting or compromising the future generation’s capability to meet their wants. Despite these challenges, the energy system can be sustained by creating a balance in the amount of carbon dioxide emission and the volume consumed by plants through photosynthesis process. First, by planting more photosynthetic plants, and two, by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide emission until the equation is balanced. To achieve this, deforestation and logging should be halted or minimized until the number of plants and green vegetation has increased to a sustainable level. By applying Daly Rules for environmental sustainability, the energy system is sustained only if the rate at which renewable resources such as plants are used or consumed does not exceed the rate which it is generated. Secondly, the nonrenewable sources of energy such as fossil fuels must not be used at a rate higher than the use of renewable sources, such as wind and solar energy.
Deaton, Michael L, and James J. Winebrake. Dynamic Modeling of Environmental Systems. New York, NY: Springer New York, 2000. Print.
Flexas, Jaume, Francesco Loreto, and Hipólito Medrano. Terrestrial Photosynthesis in a Changing Environment: A Molecular, Physiological, and Ecological Approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Print.
Willis, Robert, and Brad A. Finney. Environmental Systems Engineering and Economics. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2004. Print.