Earth's Dependence on Fossil Fuels

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In today’s world, more and more people are becoming aware of the problems that are caused by the use of fossil fuel and are looking for earth-friendly and economical energy to use as a source to heat and cool their homes, drive their vehicles, use electric or whatever they do to use energy. Scientists are busy thinking up a variety of ways of producing renewable energy to replace the use of non-renewable energy.

Fuel that has taken millions of years to create from the decomposition of the plant and animal matter is known as fossil fuel. What we call oil, coal and natural gases are fossil fuels and they are made up of hydrocarbons. When hydrocarbons are burned, it releases energy which we use as heat or fuel to power equipment. Oil and gas are trapped in rock structures formed by tectonic plate movements under a formation called an anticline. An anticline is a domed or arched formation of rock that does not allow the flow of oil and gas through it. Underneath this barrier rock are fields of oil which are called reservoirs. These reservoirs are not like that of a lake of water but are actually a solid layer of porous rocks that holds the oil within the pores. There are oil fields everywhere on the earth except in the Antarctic. Methane gas, which is another type of fossil fuel, can be found in the oil fields as well as in independent pockets around the world. Methane gases are also produced in the digestive systems of animals and also produced in the swamps and are called swamp gases. To be able to remove the oil and gases from the oil fields, it requires drilling through the crust of the earth into the solid, porous rock that holds the oil and gas. In 1995, it was claimed that there were an estimated 761 billion barrels of oil left in the world and 189 billion barrels undiscovered.

Coal is another form of fossil fuel that is composed of plant and animal matter that has been formed by the pressure and high temperatures of the earth. The harder the coal, the longer it takes to form. There are approximately 1200 different types of coal available today. In 1995, coal power plants burned 1.9 billion tons of coal each year to provide 60% of our nation’s energy and 52% of the world’s energy. To remove the coal, they either dig holes into the earth either by cave systems or by strip mining. (1995)

The uses of fossil fuels have possibly caused irreversible problems in our ecological system. The environmental problems that are happening in the world caused by the burning of fossil fuels are depletion of natural resources, acid rain, air pollution, global warming and ozone depletion. Other things that are adding to problems on the planet are deforestation, over-population, and waste. There are a variety of things that our government, industries and individuals can do to slow down or completely stop the destruction of the planet.

In 2008, The International Panel of Climate Control reported that there is a 90% certainty that global warming is being caused by the burning of fossil fuels. The scientists are seeing evidence of impending catastrophes due to global warming. These catastrophes include a decrease in the clean drinking water supply, extreme weather conditions are causing more and stronger hurricanes and tornadoes and strange weather patterns, the melting of the polar caps, the level of the sea water is rising, migrating diseases, failure of the ecosystem, decline in the ability to grow and sustain food levels, the quality of our air is decreasing, increased wild fires, volcanoes erupting, and other natural disasters. (2008)

Unfortunately, Americans rely too heavily on foreign fossil fuels and at this point they are not being offered very many other opportunities for alternative fuel. Americans have also become lazy by driving cars with only one person instead of car pooling, should...
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