The Dark Face of Our Bright Lights

A Public Service Announcement from the Capitol

District 0 - The Challengers

Do not be fooled by the Districts; let the Challengers expose the negative impacts of each source of energy

Oil, Coal, and Natural Gas

Introduction - Oil, Coal, and Natural Gas

Oil, coal, and natural gas are fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are dead bodies of million year old plants and animal buried deep beneath the earth. Over the millions of years, the pressure from the sedimentary rocks and the heat from the Earth have transformed these bodies into extremely usable energy sources. Currently, fossil fuels provide 90% of all technological energy used in the world.

Environmental Impacts of Oil, Coal, and Natural Gas

There are many harmful environmental effects of using fossil fuels as a major energy source. The burning of fossil fuels release compounds that cause air pollution and smog, and the extraction and refinement of the fuels themselves also cause damage to the environment. Furthermore, this source of energy is not renewable.

If 900 million tons of coal was burned in Panem each year, here’s what would be released:

  • 18 million tons of harmful sulphur dioxide
  • 5 million tons of nitrogen oxides (main component of acid rain)
  • 4 million tons of carbon monoxide (lethal to breathe)
  • Almost a trillion tons of carbon dioxide (biggest greenhouse gas)
  • A significant amount of toxic metals such as mercury, cadmium, thallium & zinc into the air

Abandoned mines can also form acid drainage and toxic seepage that can leak into streams and other bodies of water in Panem. Coal mining can also cause:

  • Deep holes
  • Destroyed mountain tops
  • Toxic spoil piles
  • Destruction of habitats and ecosystems

Oil well exploration, drilling, construction, and transport of oil to markets is also very disruptive to wild landscapes and wildlife. Furthermore, oil spills such as the BP oil spill show how risky shipping a large amount of oil is.

Social Impacts of Oil, Coal, and Natural Gas

The social impacts of oils, coals, natural gas include negative health effects and health hazards. The negative impact on health is that is causes the emission of greenhouse gases, which cause the ozone layer to thin. Therefore, more UV rays enter the earth’s atmosphere and UV rays cause skin cancer. Furthermore, radioactivity released from coal and coal plants release thorium and uranium, which can cause radioactive poisoning.

In addition to individual health effects, coal mines have a ton of health hazards for the miners. It might cause pneumoconiosis (CWP), also known as black lung disease. It is caused by long-term exposure to coal dust, which builds up in lungs and causes inflammation, fibrosis, and necrosis. There is also the risk of roofs collapsing and trapping or killing miners, since safety devices used to monitor the mines are not foolproof. There may also be coal dust explosions, which occur by rapid combustion of dust particles in the air in a closed space by friction, hot surfaces, electrostatic discharge, or fire. These explosions are big enough to be harmful and can cause collapses.

Financial Impacts of Oil, Coal, and Natural Gas

There are also numerous financial cons for oil, coal, and natural gas. Roughly 700 billion to 1 trillion dollars is spent on fossil fuels in Panem every year. Total spending on fossil fuels in Panem will be around $23 trillion between 2010 and 2030. Fossil fuels are not renewable, and this contributes to their economic uncertainty. One day, fossil fuels will be too expensive to be a feasible source of energy.

Political Impacts of Oil, Coal, Natural Gas

The political con of using oil, coal, and natural gas has to do with the distribution of power around the world. Currently, Panarabia has 40% of the world’s oil. They monitor the volume of oil consumed and adjust their own production to maintain a desirable barrel price. Good relations with countries possessing vast resources of oil would be an advantage, turning this coveted energy source into a political weapon.

Nuclear Energy

Introduction - Nuclear Energy

Nuclear energy is energy released from two kinds of reactions: nuclear fission and nuclear fusion. Nuclear fission is when the nuclei of atoms split into two smaller nuclei. When that is happening, a small amount of mass from the reaction is converted to a large amount of energy. Nuclear fission is done in nuclear power plants, where many fission reactions are occurring in chains, which release energy in consistent amounts. The energy released from fission is used to boil water and release steam. The steam is used to spin electricity-generating turbines. Most nuclear reactors use uranium isotope called uranium-235 as fuel.

Social Impact - Nuclear Energy

The social impact of using nuclear power is that it poses high risk to people living in the area in case of a nuclear meltdown. A nuclear power plant failure can result in a large amount of radiation being released into the atmosphere, resulting in the surrounding population dying from radiation poisoning. As seen from nuclear disasters in the past like Chernobyl, long-term health risks include cancer, cataracts, cardiovascular disease, and reproductive dysfunction. Even traumatic still is the displacement that follows, resulting in elevated stress for the displaced persons and possible stigma as having been “infected” by radiation.

Financial Impact - Nuclear Energy

The financial impact of using nuclear power is that it is financially unreasonable. It is extremely expensive to build a nuclear power plant compared to a fossil fuel plant, which means that it is not always possible for poorer countries. It takes anywhere from five years to a decade to build the plant, stemming from legal formalities and objections made by people living in the immediate area. Furthermore, the lifespan of a nuclear power plant is relatively short. After thirty years of use, a plant is shut down for good. Nuclear energy is also non-renewable, depending on a supply of uranium.

Political Impact - Nuclear Energy

The political impact of using nuclear power is that its byproduct, plutonium, may be used to create nuclear weapons. In the reprocessing of nuclear waste, one product is plutonium. Plutonium is currently banned in Panem for the protection of the people.

Wind Energy

introduction - Wind Energy

Winds are caused by the uneven heating of the atmosphere by the sun, the irregularities of the earth's surface, and rotation of the earth. Wind flow patterns are modified by the earth's terrain and bodies of water. This wind flow, or motion energy, when "harvested" by modern wind turbines, can be used to generate electricity. Wine turbines convert the kinetic energy in the wind into mechanical energy, and later, electrical energy.

Other Impacts - Wind Energy

In addition to the points above, it may be difficult to negotiate prices with residents who must be displaced from land needed to house wind turbine farms. In addition, the rotating blades of the wind turbine tend to throw ice pellets in the winter. There is also concern about the aesthetic of wind turbines, which many people find ugly on the landscape.

Solar Energy

Introduction - Solar Energy

Solar energy is when technology is used to harness the power of the sun. Examples of these technologies include solar panels and solar thermal power plants.

Functional Drawbacks of Solar Energy

There are various problems with the use of solar energy. First and foremost, solar energy cannot be used at all if there is no sun. Solar energy is unreliable when the weather is not sunny, and is not as effective in areas of the world that receive a disproportionately small amount of daytime due to their position on the globe. Furthermore, solar energy can only be used immediately. In order to save up energy, there needs to be a storage device, like a battery, and it is impossible to use solar energy after sunset unless one possesses a battery. Even at its most efficient, solar energy is only 11 to 15% efficient at converting solar energy into electrical energy.

Hydro Energy

Introduction - Hydro Energy

Hydro energy is energy generated using moving water. A typical hydro plant is a system with three parts: an electric plant where the electricity is produced, a dam that can be opened or closed to control water flow, and a reservoir where water can be stored. The water behind the dam flows through an intake and pushes against blades in a turbine, causing them to turn. The turbine spins a generator to produce electricity. The amount of electricity that can be generated depends on how far the water drops and how much water moves through the system.

Social Impact - Hydro Energy

The construction of a hydro energy plant may cause disputes between parties stemming from that fact that the dam will cause flooding in areas previously occupied by people. The formation of large and huge dams destroys the living beings around them. Local life is disturbed as human can’t live in such a flooded area and plants are destroyed. People living nearby have to relocate.

Financial Impact - Hydro Energy

Financial problems mostly stem from installation costs. Although the effective cost is zero, the manufacturing and building of a dam and the installation of the turbines is very costly. As a result, many countries do not employ this alternative source of energy. If the initial cost had been less, then it would have used more commonly. Its construction requires a lot of human capital and labour. Its maintenance is also very costly.

Other Impacts - Hydro Energy

Often times, a large body of water is located between two major cities or territories. Disputes may arise concerning the ownership of electricity produced. In addition, hydro energy is limited by geography. As hydroelectric power depends on geography, only those areas that have sufficient amounts of water can use this method.

Geothermal Energy

Introduction - Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy is when heat energy from within the earth is harnessed for usage. Examples of sources of geothermal energy are lava, volcanoes, geysers, fumaroles, hot springs, and mud pots.

Other Impacts of Geothermal Energy

There are functional cons associated with geothermal energy. First and foremost is the sparseness of the availability of thermal hotspots. The thermal hotspot must be close to hot water or a stream that is not too impure to use, there must be surface water nearby to cool generating equipment. As well, it would be beneficial to have a geothermal hotspot with proximity to power lines.

In Panem alone, it is estimated that there is maximum 150 000 MW of energy to be harnessed. So far, only 25 000 MW of geothermal energy comes from known resources. This is only approximately a quarter of Panem’s energy needs, not including if cars were to go electric. Since energy resources are concentrated in the west in Panem, it would be convenient for the western territories to access geothermal energy, but not for the rest of the continent or the rest of the world. Furthermore, geothermal energy is unreliable because while the actual heat from the centre of the earth may not run out, the reservoir could lose energy or the energy may be released elsewhere due to shifts in the earth. Overall, it would be difficult to manage reservoirs of geothermal energy.

Biomass Energy

Introduction - Biomass Energy

Biomass fuels can be likened to fossil fuels, but instead of using extinct organisms buried deep beneath the earth, organic matter is grown and then used to produce electricity. It can be described as harnessing the energy of living, or recently living organisms.

Political Impact - Biomass Energy

A political problem associated with biomass energy is that due to higher food prices caused by biofuel manufacturers competing directly with good buyers, high demand for biofuel crops causes farmers and other growers to switch to biofuel production from food production. The result is higher food prices, which would be disastrous for the districts of Panem. This could cause a revolution from the citizens.