Generating Energy: Helping or Hurting the Biosphere?


Smoke stacks on a power plant. Picture source: shutterstock

When we talk about “energy,” we mean the electricity that makes other things work, like lights, refrigerators, air conditioners, and computers. Do you ever wonder where this energy comes from?


Electric power lines. Picture source:

Electricity is made by power plants. Most of the power plants in the United States, and around the world, burn coal to make electricity. The problem is that burning coal creates air pollution. This air pollution is unhealthy for people to inhale. It’s also causing Earth’s climates to change, which is creating very strange weather for people around the world. Some areas are getting too dry. Others are having really bad storms. The messed up weather is affecting people’s lives!

The good news is that people around the world are developing other ways to create energy. 

In the country of Denmark, I saw many wind turbines around the country. Instead of burning coal to generate electricity, the wind does the work! I saw the turbines in farmers’ fields, as well as offshore in the ocean. Take a look at my video below. The wind turbines are very quiet, but the wind created quite a noise blowing across my microphone.

When I was travelling around the country of Iceland, I saw hydro-thermal power stations making energy. The heat from magma underground is used to turn large turbines to generate electricity. Click here to see photos and videos. 

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Chirpy checks out the steam pipes that take the hot water to the turbines. The steam you see at the power plant in the distance is just water vapor from the hot water. It’s not air pollution.

Traveling through upstate New York, I saw another great way to create energy without causing a lot of air pollution: hydro-electric power. New York’s hydro-electric power station is located next to the Niagara River. There’s so much water flowing so rapidly down the river, that it creates a strong force. The force of the flowing water can be used to turn turbines.

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This turbine is on display at the hydro-electric power station’s visitor center. Turbines like this one are used to create energy.


The moving turbines generate electricity, just like burning coal, or blowing wind, or the pressure of hot steam.

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The Niagara River flowing down from Niagara Falls. You can see the dam in the background that diverts the water through the hydro-electric power station.


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This hydro-electric power station sends the energy it generates to the high-powered electric lines you see in the background.


Yet another way to generate energy is by harnessing the sun’s heat. Solar panels convert the sun’s heat into electricity. The town of Clarkestown, close to our own school district, has set up over 6,000 solar panels to generate energy for its government buildings. Click here to see photos and videos.

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Solar panels set up in West Nyack.

 Can you think of other ways to generate energy without creating air pollution?

81 thoughts on “Generating Energy: Helping or Hurting the Biosphere?

  1. I find it fascinating that we can generate electricity in so many ways without polluting the atmosphere. We really just need to do more!

  2. I think its interesting how the hydro thermal plants generate electricity. Its cool how they are using magma from the ground to turn turbines

  3. I learned that the town of Clarkstown has over 6,000 solar panels. Wow, it’s really amazing that they are really trying to help the earth. They are doing a very good job slowing down climate change and global warming.

  4. Im glad they are taking action on finding ways to create energy without polluting the air.When they are taking action it helps.air pollution is bad its harming our earth.So my opinion is this idea is great. Its not creating pollution.Also its not making people have to go turn machines on to create pollution.

  5. I found it really cool that you got to go to niagara falls! It looked like a really fun experience. I learned that there are more then 6,000 solar panels just right around our town! Another thing I learned is that there is a dam just at niagara falls.

  6. I think that it is amazing how many ways there are to make green energy! I wonder how people come up with these things, it must be really hard. But, I am glad that we are finding so many ways to produce energy without harming the environment. No matter all the hardships, we will still help the earth no matter what!

  7. I first thought that just a little bit of people were taking climate change and global warming seriously. Now I figured out that a lot more people are doing something about it!

  8. I found it interesting that water and the wind is helping our planet with no pollution involved. When I get home I hope I can get solar panels:)

  9. It’s amazing that more and more people are working against climate change using and creating things that help slow it down! I didn’t even realize how many people are starting to take action!

  10. That is awesome how wind turbines can make electricity, and not creating air pollution. I think that people should use turbines instead of power plants.

  11. In Clarks town there is a field of over 6,000 solar panels to generate electricity for government buildings. Using water you can generate electricity. That’s what the government is doing at Niagara Falls. They’re generating electricity with a generator and turbines. You can see in iceland a generator using the heat from magma to spin the turbines to move the generator for electricity.

  12. I learned that in clarkstown has a huge field of over 6,000 solar panels. its a crazy amount of solar panels but sure gets the job done.

  13. Clarkstown has a field of over 6,000 solar panels. Clarkstown has a big effect on the earth. Windmills and other machines have a big effect on the planet around us.

  14. Those are some really great inventions to generate electricity in an eco-friendly way.Those 6,000 solar panels must generate a lot of electricity. Whoever thought of solar panels are a genius. Its funny that people are still burning fossil fuels when they have so many options that are better for the earth.The hydro-electric power is very usefull. If the hydro electric plant is on a dam it is very usefull.It can do two things at once. It can generate power, And block water from flooding.I hope that many companies and factories continue to or start to use these ideas.

  15. I can’t believe the scientist that created all of the solar panels and pipes that could burn water to create energy to help are planet so it will not die in the next years or century.

  16. It is so cool that there are so many ways to generate electricity. Windmills, and hydro-electric are smart ways to generate electricity. There so much better then power plants that are burning fossil fuels and creating more air pollution.

  17. You can generate electricity by not burning fossil fuels. Hydroelectric power plants generate electricity by flowing water instead of burning fossil fuels. Hydrothermal power plants also generate electricity by not burning fossil fuels. The heat from the magma underground is used to turn large turbines to generate electricity. There are a lot of ways to generate electricity!

  18. There are some many alternative ways to make power! why didn’t we think of this during the industrial revolution; if we had maybe global warming wouldn’t be such a big problem now.

  19. I learned that hydro electric power does not burn coal. That is good because not as much air pollution goes into the air. Which means not as much carbon dioxide goes into the air.

  20. WOW! I never knew that Clarkstown has over 6,000 solar panels that is mind blowing !! I hope that some day all of the states and countries have over 6,000 solar panels.


  21. It’s really cool how people are finding so many ways to make electricity. Someone found a way to make electricity by using the wind. Another person found out how to use hot water and the way water moves to create electricity. Someone else thought of using the suns energy to make electricity. These are a lot of ways to make electricity without using power plants which burn fossil fuels and pollute the air.

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