March 15, 2013
Mr. Dunleavy, Period 4
The Effect of Fossil Fuels on Biodiversity & Alternative Energy Resources
Fossil fuels are hydrocarbon deposits derived from the remains of ancient plants and animals under enormous amounts of heat and pressure. Oil, or petroleum, is one of the most common fossil fuels utilized by people all over the world on a daily basis. Crude oil is a smelly, yellow-black, viscous liquid composed of mostly nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur, which is found in underground reservoirs. Oil is nonrenewable which means once it's extracted from the earth, it takes thousands of years to replace. It has been an abundant resource for many years, but it has the potential to run out because it takes so long for it to replenish (Moan & Smith, 2013). The United States produces 11% of the world's total petroleum. It's obtained by drilling into rock layers and extracting the oil deposits from them. A derrick must be built to hold the necessary tools and pipes to carry the oil. Then, it's sent to a refinery where it is separated by density in distillation towers, converted into lighter hydrocarbon molecules, treated, and stored in tanks and sent out in pipelines. Oil can be made into usable petroleum products, such as diesel, jet fuel, gasoline, ink, crayons, or even tires; however, oil is used mainly for transportation purposes (gasoline and jet fuel are the most common). Although oil does give certain advantages to everyday life, it has a negative environmental impact. When oil is burned, carbon dioxide can be emitted. Carbon dioxide is the leading cause of global warming. Oil affects biodiversity because the harmful emissions of smoke and other gases when it's being burned is harmful to plants and animals living in water and on land, including humans. Respiratory illnesses and heart diseases are just two of the possible effects of being around highly polluted areas, especially in children and the elderly ("Oil (petroleum)," n.d.)....