Fossil Fuels: Pros And Cons For Humans

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Starting with the basics of fossil fuels, fossil fuels are formed by fossilized remains of plants or animals from millions of years ago that were in the ground. Fossil fuels include coal, oil, and natural gas. Coal is formed from layers that are in the dirt and rock which were covered by plants a long time ago, because of the pressure and heat, the plants then turned into coal and that is how coal was formed. Coal is also the only solid on the list of fossil fuels. Oil was formed from a mixture of hydrocarbons that were formed from plants and animals that lived millions of years ago. Oil is a fossil fuel that is the only liquid on the list of fossil fuels. Lastly, is natural gas, like the rest of the fossil fuels were created millions of years ago and was created from animals and plants, which then built up in the layers of the Earth’s ocean floors. They sometimes mixed with different materials and these layers started going farther into the ground and the pressure and heat from them being in the ground changed some of the materials into coal, oil, and natural gas. This was how natural gas was formed and it is the only gas out of the 3 of these fossil fuels.

People all over the world use fossil fuels, lots of these energy sources are used all the way from the USA to China. The top 3 users of coal since 2017 is China, and 70% of their energy came from the use of coal. The next top user is India, which produced 692.4 million tons of coal in 2017. Lastly, number 3 in the USA and their production was down 30% in the last decade, but there is production in 25 states. For oil, the top 3 users are 1. USA, 2. China, and 3. Japan. The USA consumed 18.5 million barrels of oil per day in 2013. China consumed 10.3 mbd (million barrels per day). And Japan consumed 4.7 mbd in 2013. Lastly, the top 3 producers of natural gas is 1. USA, 2. Russia, and 3.China. The USA consumed 773,200,000 thousand cubic meters of natural gas in 2015. Russia consumed 453,300,000 thousand cubic meters of natural gas in 2014. Lastly, China consumed 181,100,000 thousand cubic meters of natural gas in 2014. The reason that we use fossil fuels is from using oil to create gas and things like plastic to using coal and natural gas for energy and heat. Another reason that we use fossil fuels is to make money. Things like coal can cost a lot of money to produce and sell.

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These countries use so much of each of these fossil fuels and they are able to do that because of reserves. These reserves are where they find these fossil fuels and dig them out of the ground. The top 3 countries that have the most coal reserves are 1.USA , 2. Russia, and 3.China. As of December 2012 the USA produced 237.295 billion tonnes of coal. Russia at the same time in 2012, and they produced 157.01 billion tonnes of coal. Lastly, China in 2012 produced 114.5 billion tonnes of coal. To buy coal at a coal mine in 2018, it costs 35.99$ per short ton. For oil, the top 3 countries that have the most oil reserves are 1.Venezuela , 2. Saudi Arabia, and 3. Canada. Venezuela had 303.3 billion barrels in 2018 which was 17.5% of the world’s total reserves. Saudi Arabia had 297.7 billion barrels of oil which were 17.2% of the world’s total reserve. Lastly, Canada had 167.8 billion barrels of oil in 2018, which was 9.7% of the world’s total reserves. A barrel of oil can range anywhere from 40-100$. Now for natural gas, in 2012 and 2013 it went 1.Russia, 2.Iran, and 3.Qatar. Russia had an estimated of about 1,688 trillion cubic feet in January of 2013. Iran had a total 1,187 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in 2012. Lastly, Qatar, as of December of 2012 they had a total of 885.3 trillion cubic feet. The thing about production is that I already talked about it in paragraph to so I think that if you have already read that, then you don’t need to read all of that information again.

Fossil fuels can have a good effect on us humans, but a bad effect on the environment. Let’s start with coal, the thing about coal is that it costs a lot more than the alternative of natural gas and things like solar and wind energy. There is a process that is called strip mining and in this process, it removes an entire layer of the ground and gets to the coal and other minerals. This is very bad for the environment because it can uproot and pollute habitats and other homes for animals and plants. Oil isn’t the best thing either, oil also has a process to get to it and it is called fracking. Fracking is when you blast large quantities of a mixture of water and chemicals. The pressure from the mixture allows oil to escape from crevices in the ground. The problem with this is that it can cause air and water pollution and it uses our fresh water for the process which we don’t have a lot of. Lastly, for natural gas, this also has a process called fracking just like oil but this process has a lot of toxic fluids in this and this has been known to contaminate our water. Using these natural gases are also the cause of global warming, and they use large amounts of carbon dioxide and when this is burned it affects our environment badly. To prove that these fossil fuels are affecting our environment, we had an assignment where we plotted the temperature change over the past 120 years from 1900 to 2017. This data showed that from 1900 to 2000 the temperature has risen 0.5 degrees celsius, and from 2000 to 2017 is rose up 0.6 degrees celsius. This shows that in a total of 117 years, the temperature has risen 1.1 degrees celsius. You can also see that the temperature is rising more in the 2000s which is when we are using more and more of these fossil fuels to make our life easier.

Now we will be talking about renewable sources that can help replace these fossil fuels and help our environment. The first renewable source is wood and wood waste, wood and wood waste have been used for heat, cooking, and lighting for thousands of years. It was actually the leading source of energy until the mid-1800s. The concern about using wood and wood waste is that when it burns it creates heat and energy which is good, but it also creates harmful pollutants like carbon monoxide. Also burning garbage can result in air pollution. The next renewable source is ethanol, ethanol is a renewable biofuel because it is made from biomass. Ethanol is very useful because “Fuel ethanol feedstocks include grains and crops with high starch and sugar content such as corn, sorghum, barley, sugar cane, and sugar beets. Ethanol can also be made from grasses, trees, and agricultural and forestry residues such as corn cobs and stocks, rice straw, sawdust, and wood chips.” This shows how helpful ethanol can be for us and how it can replace things like coal or oil. The concern about using ethanol is that even though it is good for the environment in many ways if you mix it with gasoline which burns cleaner, they have high evaporative emissions, which contribute to the formation of harmful, ground-level ozone and smog. Lastly, is hydropower, hydropower relies on the water cycle. Hydropower is used in a lot of places and “hydroelectric power plants are usually located on or near a water source. The volume of the water flow and the change in elevation (or fall) from one point to another determine the amount of available energy in moving water.” This shows that hydropower is mainly based on water and can help us stop using our fresh water. The concern about hydropower is that a lot of dams have hydraulic generators and they can obstruct fish migration and can change natural temperatures in the water. This can affect our water life a lot and can result and fish dying. The last thing that I would like to talk about is how can I help with the environment and make a difference in our world? I think that the way that I can make a difference in our world is that if I have to go somewhere that isn’t far away, instead of using a car I can use a bike. Because the gases emitted from my car affect the environment so I can use some other type of transportation to get to shorter distances. Which will thus help the environment by using fewer fossil fuels.


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