SCI207: Dependence of Man on the Environment (GSM1129B)
Ending Human Dependency on Fossil Fuels
Professor Jake Grandy
What are fossil fuels? Fossil fuels are formed by a natural decomposition process of dead organisms. These fuels range from fuels like methane and oil to solid materials such as coal. In 2007 the Energy Information Administration stated that the United States primary sources of energy consisted of 36% petroleum, 27 % coal, and 23% natural gas which amounted to approximately 86.4% of our energy usage coming from fossil fuels (www.eia.gov). Ending human dependency on fossil fuels is a key step to mitigating many environmental issues that are caused by its use.
Geographically, fossil fuels are located all over the world. Some regions may have heavy oil deposits while another may have heavy coal deposits. As it relates to oil, deposits are not limited to one area of the world but they are concentrated in certain areas. The United States has about 5% of the remaining world oil supply while the middle east has over 66% of the world’s remaining oil supply. The Middle East has by far the largest oil reserve in the world. Natural gas on the other hand is concentrated on the earth’s northern hemisphere with heavy amounts in North America, North Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Coal is found for the most part in China and the United states, together they account for 54.4 percent of the total coal on earth and they consume 52.23 percent of what they produce. Physically Fossil fuel reserves generally do not sit on the surface of the earth but rather deep under the surface. They are extracted through drilling for oil and gas or mining for coal. Why do we use them? Americans and the world use fossil fuels everyday of our lives. We cook with it, we heat our homes with it, it powers our automobiles, it produces our energy, it is fundamental in the production of plastics and paints, and far too many other items to mention. But how did it become so engrained in our daily lives, in everything we do. Today the answer is that fossil fuels are simple to work with as it is known technology, flexible as you do so many thing with them from provide energy to make glasses, and economical as new and better sources of energy come at a premium cost to what we are used to. When 90% or a nation’s energy comes from fossil fuels, as it does in the United States, it is a very painful relationship to end. How painful is the question, to answer one must quantify how engrained fossil fuels are to our society. In 2001 the US consumed over 19.6 billion gallons of Petroleum Oil a day but as of July 2011 the figures had soared to an estimated 378 million gallons a day according to the United States Energy Information Administration. That is 378 million gallons a day is the equation for billions of dollars in revenue. Today, the world’s addiction to fossil fuels is driven by money! The cost of changing over to alternative methods is not cheap. Billions are being made on a daily basis from producing byproducts of fossil fuels; this is a tough meal ticket for big business to give up. Why would a car manufacturer want to spend millions on new technologies when what they currently have they are profiting from. What are the incentives for them to do this when people continue to support the current technology and price points. A fundamental mindset has to be changed and this must be driven by the consumer. Marketing programs and the use of green intelligence can help to drive decisions that foster a cleaner environment( Turk, & Bensel, 2011). The worlds reliance on fossil fuel is concerning from the position that it is harmful to our environment but it also only has a finite amount of resources available. This is not a sustainable resource for generations to come as it is harming our environment and we will eventually run out of these resources. Increase in earth’s...
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