2 February 2015
Feasible alternative fuel development is essential to sustainable resource management and the alternatives to fossil fuels as presented in Watershed offers promise and hope critical to the survival of our ecosystem. Brief History
Before the Industrial Revolution, the human species relied on the sun for heat along with biomass (typically firewood) straw and dried animal dung. Horses provided muscle power to do things outside of human strength, like pull plows to till the land. Steam engines are traced back to ancient Alexandria time (Union of Concerned Scientist, n. d.). Improvement continued throughout the years. In the mid-1700s, Thomas Newcomen and James Watts created what is now the modern coal- powered steam engine. A single steam engine worked as efficient as twelve horses. Shortly after locomotives and factories began using steam engines. Coal was also used to smelt metals and heat buildings. In 1881, the world’s first hydroelectric plant became operative to assist in grinding corn (Union of Concerned Scientist, n. d.). Toward the turn of the century, the pesky well water contaminant, petroleum, was converted into oil, which was processed again into gasoline. Soon followed the internal combustion engine and oil powered ships. Gasoline also powered the automobile. As gas consumption grew without any regard to where the U. S. got its oil from, turmoil was growing in the Arab nation. Because of this fighting gas prices increased almost 150 % over a few week period. During World War II and the creation of the atomic bomb, nuclear fission became a viable source of energy. However, there were some problems with a few of the facilities, lowering the demand for this type of energy (Union of Concerned Scientist, n. d.).
Long-term Effects of Non-renewable Resources
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that the surface temperature will increase by 2-4 degrees Fahrenheit over the next fifty years to one hundred years (Kaster, 1998). It is predicted that the concentration of CO2 will triple to what the pre-industrial average of 280 ppm. Currently, according to the CO2 detector on Mauna Loa Observatory is registering 398.78 ppm. Kaster (1998) states that,” Of the 7.1 gigatons of carbon released each year about 3.3 Gt C accumulates in the atmosphere.” An increase of air pollutants is a result of continued use of fossil fuels. Air pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides and hydrocarbons are produced as fossil fuels are used (Union of Concerned Scientist, n. d.). Carbon monoxide causes headaches and aggravates people with heart disease. Nitrogen dioxide and nitric oxides create smog, a yellowish-brown “cloud” layer that settles on the ground. And these substances irritate lungs causing issues like bronchitis and pneumonia. Sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides are the primary components of acid rain and snow that affect plants and buildings. Hydrocarbons are another pollutant made from burning fossil fuels. Smog is also tropospheric ozone, which affects lungs, and crop yields. In addition, fossil fuels produce small particles that irritate the lungs. Pollution also impacts water and land. Oil spills leave shorelines uninhabitable for animals. Coal mining adds water pollutants by adding sulfur compounds to the water (Union of Concerned Scientist, n. d.).
Global warming is the result of Earth’s average temperature increasing because of greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide and methane. It takes many years for greenhouse gases to...