Energy conservation is the buzzword in this age of global warming. And why not?
Our oceans are heating up, because kinetic energy from its waves is being transformed more and more into heat energy.
Ice in the North and South Poles are melting faster because heat energy from the sun passes through the thin ozone layer and the frozen water’s chemical energy turns it into liquid form.
This brings us to the principle of the conservation of energy. It has been said that energy is neither created nor destroyed.
Thus, energy is still energy even if it comes in different forms. You have mechanical, kinetic or potential, light and electrical energy.
Here’s a quick look at the different forms of energy, as explained by Kristine Tria, a tutor at Ahead Tutorial and Review Center.
Kinetic energy is energy a moving object has because of its motion. Thus a rolling ball, a jumping child and a kicking horse have kinetic energy.
Potential energy is energy stored within a motionless object. A sleeping lion has potential energy. There are many forms of potential energy. Elastic potential energy is energy stored by something that can stretch. Thus, a spring or rubber band has elastic potential energy. Chemical potential energy is energy stored within chemical bonds. Gravitational potential energy is anything that can fall, like a drinking glass at the edge of a table or a ripe mango hanging on a tree branch.
Mechanical energy is energy that comes from a position and motion. Waves gently moving in the ocean and a crane carrying construction materials have mechanical energy.
Light energy, as the name implies, comes from light. Thus, a fluorescent bulb emits energy which allows us to see things even at night.
And finally, electrical energy is the one that powers our appliances through energy that flows via cables, switches and other kinds of connections. Nature’s form of electrical energy comes from lightning, whose sparks light up the sky like a million lightbulbs.
Lightbulbs convert electrical energy into light energy. Chemical energy in gasoline is converted to kinetic thermal, and thermal (heat) energy once the car starts moving.
The chemical energy from gasoline can turn into heat. Try opening the hood of a car while the engine is on. You’ll feel heat rising from the engine.
Potential energy can become mechanical energy, like when a stationary train starts moving on the tracks.
Mechanical energy can become heat energy. For instance, when two cars collide, the energy from their respective engines combine to produce heat, even fire.
“Today, climate change challenges us to conserve energy,” says Tria. “The more energy we save, the less often it is converted to other forms of energy, like heat, that’s responsible for global warming.”
The less we ride cars and use public transportation instead, the less mechanical energy is consumed. The more we turn off the lights when not in use, the more we conserve electrical energy.
Now wouldn’t it be nice to think of more ways to conserve energy and keep it from changing into a deadly form that will destroy our planet?