For a long time now, humans have used fossil fuels. Fossil fuels have been used mostly to machines that help us travel from one place to another and those that run our industries(blogger). Fossil fuels are one of nature’s wonders that have benefited humankind to prosper to a point which was unprecedented in the past. Fossil fuels are known to have been formed through the organic material of prehistoric animals and plants. The commonly used fossil fuels, known to all, are coal, gas and oil. This paper studies whether using fossil fuels are beneficial, and can an alternative be used, instead of fossil fuels, to meet the energy demand of the world.
According to the United States Department of Energy Information Administration; fossil fuels are an energy source that has been formed in the Earth’s crust. These have been created from the decayed organic material; most definitely from prehistoric times. Another source claims that they have concentrated deposits of carbon that are stored underground or under the sea(October 13 and 2016). They consist of the remains of the prehistoric animals and plants that have decayed millions of years ago. The decaying process has allowed the remains to turn into the fossil fuels in their present avatar.
Today, fossil fuels are the primary sources of energy, used on Earth. For more than a century, fossil fuels have fueled the world’s economy, leading us to an ultra-modern era, in which we have access to a lot of things, previously unknown to man(Fossil Fuels: Their Advantages and Disadvantages). The massive Industrial Revolution that led to a sudden growth in the economy and allowed the European nations to colonise most the planet during the late 19th and 20th centuries was a direct result of fossil fuel discovery. Among the fossil fuels, Oil is primarily used for transportation purposes. This is extracted from the ground and processed in refineries; to form petroleum. The United States mostly consumes petrol; 19 million barrels per day(Can Alternative Energy Effectively Replace Fossil Fuels? – Alternative Energy – ProCon.Org). The second type is of coal. Coal is primarily used to generate electricity. China happens to be the leader in coal production, producing 45 % of the world supply. And the third fuel is Natural Gas. Gas is mostly used to create heat, but can also generate electricity. It is also used by industries to produce fertilisers.
While fossil fuel has profound advantages that have proved to be helpful to us, they also have several disadvantages(What Are Fossil Fuels? – Alternative Energy – ProCon.Org). One of the significant problems is pollution. Land pollution is created when fossil fuels; especially coal, are mined. Additionally, when these are burned carbon dioxide is formed, which results in air pollution. The air pollution further creates a greenhouse effect. It is also the leading causes of global warming. Coal produces the most pollution because it provides more carbon dioxide than the other two. It also presents sulphur dioxide. Crude oil production creates a possibility of oil spills or fire, which is bound to affect both; human lives and animal lives, around the particular area.
These days, because of the many adverse effects fossil fuel usage has on the environment, most scientists are working on renewable energy as a possible option for fuel(“Advantages And Disadvantages Of Fossil Fuels”). However, whether alternatives like biofuels, hydrogen, solar, wind and geothermal can meet the world’s energy demands or not, has yet to be learned. Supporters of alternative energy claim that fossil fuels are environmentally destructive, limited and are the primary contributor to global climate change. They say that fossil fuels might not last forever. Considering the rate at which we are using them, fossil fuel reserves might be depleted in the next 30 or 50 years. We need to have an alternative that can support our energy needs(Alternative Energy – ProCon.Org).
Of the various alternative options, here are a few listed.
- Solar Power; Solar power gathers solar energy through solar panels and uses it to produce electricity. The electricity is saved in batteries attached to the solar panels. According to reports, solar panels are cheaper than they were a few years ago. Solar cells now use common salt, instead of silicon, which makes them more competitive. Also, this has made them more efficient and effective.
- Wind; another alternative is wind power. The main advantage is that it is clean and is readily available all over the world, without paying anything to anyone. When it was first proposed as an alternative, we had to install huge towers and put turbines on them. Today, however, we have a much better technology that is cost-effective. We now have wind turbines that do not have to be mounted on towers. Additionally, individual devices can even be installed on balloons.
- Tidal Power; Ocean currents are one of the most potent sources to generate electricity. Generating electricity from tides or ocean currents is almost similar to wind energy. Tidal power uses submerged turbines and floating devices that make electricity when they rotate and move up and down due to the ocean current. For cities that are along a coast, tidal power is an excellent option to generate nonstop electricity.
- Cooking Oil; once we have prepared our food, we usually throw away the cooking oil. Though it can be used to run cars.
On the other hand, opponents to alternative energy claim that fossil fuels are far more economical and readily available than alternative energy. They claim that there are many technological hurdles, because of which alternative power is so now not a viable option.
There are a lot of options for alternative fuel, which we can use. Most of these options have already been discovered, while others are being studied on. If we try, we can create a better future for ourselves, by using renewable energy, instead of fossil fuels and limiting global warming.
“Advantages And Disadvantages Of Fossil Fuels.” OccupyTheory, 9 Apr. 2014, https://occupytheory.org/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-fossil-fuels/.
Alternative Energy – ProCon.Org. https://alternativeenergy.procon.org/. Accessed 28 Nov. 2017.
blogger. 5 Alternatives to Fossil Fuels – Renewable Energy Sources of Today | Institute of Ecolonomics. http://ecolonomics.org/5-alternatives-to-fossil-fuels-renewable-energy-sources-of-today/. Accessed 28 Nov. 2017.
Can Alternative Energy Effectively Replace Fossil Fuels? – Alternative Energy – ProCon.Org. https://alternativeenergy.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=001244. Accessed 28 Nov. 2017.
Fossil Fuels: Their Advantages and Disadvantages. http://www.alternativeenergysecret.com/fossil-fuels.html. Accessed 28 Nov. 2017.
October 13, Nathaniel Mott on, and 2016. “Why Nobody Talks About These 6 Alternatives to Fossil Fuel.” Inverse, https://www.inverse.com/article/22086-alternatives-fossil-fuels-nobody-talks-about-why. Accessed 28 Nov. 2017.
What Are Fossil Fuels? – Alternative Energy – ProCon.Org. https://alternativeenergy.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=001245. Accessed 28 Nov. 2017.