For Earth Day, Explore "Going Green" or "Going Clean!"
For this Earth Day, let's explore clean vs. green. What is the difference? Which is better? We often hear these terms when talking about the environment or our climate. Many of us don’t know the difference between the two terms, so let's take a look!
There are important differences in how different energy sources power our world. Some of these energy sources are more environmentally friendly, or "green." We all know that Mother Earth has a fever and that burning fossil fuels can cause problems for plants, animals, and communities across the world, and that it's impacting the global climate. In fact, 2015 and 2016 were the hottest temperatures on Earth ever recorded.
Often, we see the term "going green" in conversations about the environment and sustainability. Going green is a campaign, a movement, or a call to action for all individuals and communities around the world. Going green means creating or using processes and actions that are aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions to help make Earth a healthier planet.
Recycling, community gardens, designing and building Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) buildings, and planting trees are early examples of the going green movement. There are even green jobs that help reduce our carbon dioxide emissions. The movement includes any great way to globally connect people with local actions to help create a brighter, more sustainable future.
While all those environmentally friendly green actions are helpful, they're not enough. All the people on our planet use energy. From flicking on our lights to plugging in our cell phones, our energy production and consumption is one of the biggest impacts on our Mother Earth. For decades, we have been burning fossil fuels to power our lives.
Today, there's a trend of looking toward clean energy sources. Clean energy sources are those that still might be harmful or considered a fossil fuel, but which allow us to rely less on other fossil fuels. For example, the use of natural gas for heating homes and businesses, which can take the place of burning coal, is on the rise in the United States. But both natural gas and coal are fossil fuels. They both can have negative impacts on our environment. Yet natural gas is considered to be a clean energy source.
Don’t be fooled! Just because a fuel is clean, that doesn’t mean it isn’t having an impact on the environment. That is why the use of clean AND green energy sources, such as solar, wind, and geothermal, is growing.
The next time you see a petition, a news article, or a campaign about clean or green, put on your scientific thinking hat and ask yourself:
- Is there an impact on the environment? If so, what?
- Are they using the term "clean" and "green" properly? Is it really environmentally friendly?
- How is it being produced, maintained, or consumed?
- How much (e.g., energy) do we really need?
- How will this impact my neighborhood or my home?
- How can I take action?
To learn more about renewable energy technologies and their impact on climate change, read our books written for students, parents, and teachers. These books aim to positively engage readers and feature real scientific studies along with more than 20 hands-on STEM activities to further explore key science concepts!
Erin Twamley is the author of two Amazon #1 Hot New Release books, and a teacher in Seoul, South Korea. She received recognition for her exemplary leadership in education from the U.S. Department of Energy and YWCA National Capital Area. She strives to engage the next generation of learners in protecting and creating a sustainable planet. If your school would like to skype with the author or learn more, please email at firstname.lastname@example.org.