Dependency On Fossil Fuels Essay Topics

Fossil fuel is a term used to describe a group of energy sources that were formed when ancient plants and organisms were subject to intense heat and pressure over millions of years.

FOSSIL FUELS 

Definition

Fossil fuel is a term used to describe a group of energy sources that were formed from ancient plants and organisms during the Carboniferous Period, approximately 360 to 286 million years ago[1]California Energy Commission. “Where fossil fuels come from” Accessed 1.27.2015. http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter08.htmlCalifornia Energy Commission. “Where fossil fuels come from” Accessed 1.27.2015. http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter08.htmlCalifornia Energy Commission. “Where fossil fuels come from” Accessed 1.27.2015. http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter08.htmlCalifornia Energy Commission. “Where fossil fuels come from” Accessed 1.27.2015. http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter08.htmlCalifornia Energy Commission. “Where fossil fuels come from” Accessed 1.27.2015. http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter08.htmlCalifornia Energy Commission. “Where fossil fuels come from” Accessed 1.27.2015. http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter08.htmlCalifornia Energy Commission. “Where fossil fuels come from” Accessed 1.27.2015. http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter08.htmlCalifornia Energy Commission. “Where fossil fuels come from” Accessed 1.27.2015. http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter08.htmlCalifornia Energy Commission. “Where fossil fuels come from” Accessed 1.27.2015. http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter08.htmlCalifornia Energy Commission. “Where fossil fuels come from” Accessed 1.27.2015. http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter08.htmlCalifornia Energy Commission. “Where fossil fuels come from” Accessed 1.27.2015. http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter08.htmlCalifornia Energy Commission. “Where fossil fuels come from” Accessed 1.27.2015. http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter08.htmlCalifornia Energy Commission. “Where fossil fuels come from” Accessed 1.27.2015. http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter08.html, prior to the age of dinosaurs.

At that time, the land was covered with swamps filled with microorganisms, marine organisms, trees, ferns and other large leafy plants. As the organisms and plants died, they sank to the bottom of the swamps and oceans and formed layers of a spongy material called peat. Over millions of years, the peat was covered by sand, clay, and other minerals, which converted the peat into sedimentary rock. Over time, different types of fossil fuels formed, depending on the combination of organic matter present, how long it was buried, and what temperature and pressure conditions existed when they were decomposing.[2]US Department of Energy. “Fossil”  http://energy.gov/science-innovation/energy-sources/fossilUS Department of Energy. “Fossil”  http://energy.gov/science-innovation/energy-sources/fossilUS Department of Energy. “Fossil”  http://energy.gov/science-innovation/energy-sources/fossilUS Department of Energy. “Fossil”  http://energy.gov/science-innovation/energy-sources/fossil

US Department of Energy. “Fossil”  http://energy.gov/science-innovation/energy-sources/fossilUS Department of Energy. “Fossil”  http://energy.gov/science-innovation/energy-sources/fossilUS Department of Energy. “Fossil”  http://energy.gov/science-innovation/energy-sources/fossilUS Department of Energy. “Fossil”  http://energy.gov/science-innovation/energy-sources/fossilUS Department of Energy. “Fossil”  http://energy.gov/science-innovation/energy-sources/fossilUS Department of Energy. “Fossil”  http://energy.gov/science-innovation/energy-sources/fossilUS Department of Energy. “Fossil”  http://energy.gov/science-innovation/energy-sources/fossilUS Department of Energy. “Fossil”  http://energy.gov/science-innovation/energy-sources/fossilUS Department of Energy. “Fossil”  http://energy.gov/science-innovation/energy-sources/fossil

 

There are three major types of fossil fuels:[3]US Oil Properties. “Oil and natural gas: What are they and what makes them different?” June 2012. http://www.usoilproperties.com/natural-gas-news/oil-and-natural-gas-what-are-they-and-what-makes-them-different/ US Oil Properties. “Oil and natural gas: What are they and what makes them different?” June 2012. http://www.usoilproperties.com/natural-gas-news/oil-and-natural-gas-what-are-they-and-what-makes-them-different/ US Oil Properties. “Oil and natural gas: What are they and what makes them different?” June 2012. http://www.usoilproperties.com/natural-gas-news/oil-and-natural-gas-what-are-they-and-what-makes-them-different/ US Oil Properties. “Oil and natural gas: What are they and what makes them different?” June 2012. http://www.usoilproperties.com/natural-gas-news/oil-and-natural-gas-what-are-they-and-what-makes-them-different/ US Oil Properties. “Oil and natural gas: What are they and what makes them different?” June 2012. http://www.usoilproperties.com/natural-gas-news/oil-and-natural-gas-what-are-they-and-what-makes-them-different/ US Oil Properties. “Oil and natural gas: What are they and what makes them different?” June 2012. http://www.usoilproperties.com/natural-gas-news/oil-and-natural-gas-what-are-they-and-what-makes-them-different/ US Oil Properties. “Oil and natural gas: What are they and what makes them different?” June 2012. http://www.usoilproperties.com/natural-gas-news/oil-and-natural-gas-what-are-they-and-what-makes-them-different/ US Oil Properties. “Oil and natural gas: What are they and what makes them different?” June 2012. http://www.usoilproperties.com/natural-gas-news/oil-and-natural-gas-what-are-they-and-what-makes-them-different/ US Oil Properties. “Oil and natural gas: What are they and what makes them different?” June 2012. http://www.usoilproperties.com/natural-gas-news/oil-and-natural-gas-what-are-they-and-what-makes-them-different/ US Oil Properties. “Oil and natural gas: What are they and what makes them different?” June 2012. http://www.usoilproperties.com/natural-gas-news/oil-and-natural-gas-what-are-they-and-what-makes-them-different/ US Oil Properties. “Oil and natural gas: What are they and what makes them different?” June 2012. http://www.usoilproperties.com/natural-gas-news/oil-and-natural-gas-what-are-they-and-what-makes-them-different/ US Oil Properties. “Oil and natural gas: What are they and what makes them different?” June 2012. http://www.usoilproperties.com/natural-gas-news/oil-and-natural-gas-what-are-they-and-what-makes-them-different/ US Oil Properties. “Oil and natural gas: What are they and what makes them different?” June 2012. http://www.usoilproperties.com/natural-gas-news/oil-and-natural-gas-what-are-they-and-what-makes-them-different/  

  • Coal is formed from ferns, plants and trees which hardened due to pressure and heat
  • Oilis formed from smaller organisms, like zooplankton and algae. Intense amounts of pressure caused this complex organic matter to decompose into oil. 
  • Natural Gasundergoes the same process as oil; however the process is longer and subject to higher amounts of heat and pressure, causing further decomposition.

Context

Fossil fuels are the world’s dominant energy source, making up 82% of the global energy supply.[4]International Energy Agency. “Key World Statistics 2014”. 2014International Energy Agency. “Key World Statistics 2014”. 2014International Energy Agency. “Key World Statistics 2014”. 2014International Energy Agency. “Key World Statistics 2014”. 2014International Energy Agency. “Key World Statistics 2014”. 2014International Energy Agency. “Key World Statistics 2014”. 2014International Energy Agency. “Key World Statistics 2014”. 2014International Energy Agency. “Key World Statistics 2014”. 2014International Energy Agency. “Key World Statistics 2014”. 2014International Energy Agency. “Key World Statistics 2014”. 2014International Energy Agency. “Key World Statistics 2014”. 2014International Energy Agency. “Key World Statistics 2014”. 2014International Energy Agency. “Key World Statistics 2014”. 2014 Non-OECD countries hold the majority of proven reserves for all fossil fuels.[5]BP PLC. “BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014”. June 2014 BP PLC. “BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014”. June 2014 BP PLC. “BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014”. June 2014 BP PLC. “BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014”. June 2014 BP PLC. “BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014”. June 2014 BP PLC. “BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014”. June 2014 BP PLC. “BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014”. June 2014 BP PLC. “BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014”. June 2014 BP PLC. “BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014”. June 2014 BP PLC. “BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014”. June 2014 BP PLC. “BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014”. June 2014 BP PLC. “BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014”. June 2014 BP PLC. “BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014”. June 2014: http://www.bp.com/content/dam/bp-country/de_de/PDFs/brochures/BP-statistical-review-of-world-energy-2014-full-report.pdf These energy sources have powered, and continue to power, the industrialization of nations. They have a variety of applications, from electricity production to transport fuel.  Moreover, fossil fuels are necessary for the production of a variety of common products, such as paints, detergents, polymers (including plastics), cosmetics and some medicines.

Some fossil fuels, such as coal, are an abundant and cheap form of energy. Others, like oil, have a variable cost depending on geographic location. For this reason, geopolitical issues arise due to the geographic allocation of these highly valuable resources.

Fossil fuels are non-renewable resources, as they have taken millions of years to form. Once these resources are used, they will not be replenished. Moreover, fossil fuels are the largest source of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas which contributes to climate change, and their production causes both environmental and human health impacts. These concerns are triggering the world to look at alternate sources of energy that are both less harmful and renewable. Additionally, the gradual depletion of conventional fossil fuel reserves has led companies to develop more challenging reserves.  These unconventional resources usually have higher production costs and a greater risk of environmental impact. 

 

 

References

  1. ^California Energy Commission. “Where fossil fuels come from” Accessed 1.27.2015. http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter08.html
  2. ^US Department of Energy. “Fossil”  http://energy.gov/science-innovation/energy-sources/fossil
  3. ^US Oil Properties. “Oil and natural gas: What are they and what makes them different?” June 2012. http://www.usoilproperties.com/natural-gas-news/oil-and-natural-gas-what-are-they-and-what-makes-them-different/ 
  4. ^International Energy Agency. “Key World Statistics 2014”. 2014
  5. ^BP PLC. “BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014”. June 2014 

AGREE 3:

Renewable energy is not cost effective

Renewable energies in their current supply are either not cost effective without heavy government subsidies, use tremendous amounts of land, or they harm the environment in some way. (Quora.com)

Calculating the cost of electricity from renewable energy sources is quite difficult. It depends on the fuel used, the cost of capital (power plants take years to build and last for decades), how much of the time a plant operates, and whether it generates power at times of peak demand. In measuring the costs economists use “levelised costs”(the net present value of all costs – capital and operating – of a generating unit over its life cycle, divided by the number of megawatt-hours of electricity it is expected to supply). What levelised costing doesn’t take into account is the issue of intermittency – wind power isn’t generated on a calm day, or solar power at night, resulting in the need for conventional power plants to be kept on standby.

Electricity demand varies during the day in ways that the supply from wind and solar generation may not match, so even if renewable forms of energy have the same levelised cost as conventional ones, the value of the power they produce may be lower.

Another way to measure the costs is through a ‘cost-benefit analysis’ which looks at the benefits of renewable energy including the value of the fuel that would have been used if coal or gas-fired plants had produced the same amount of electricity and the amount of carbon-dioxide emissions that they avoid.  According to this calculation, wind and solar power appear to be far more expensive than if calculated on the basis of levelised costs.

To determine the overall cost or benefit, the cost of the fossil-fuel plants that need to continue to be on stand-by for the intermittency problem, needs to be factored in. For example, solar farms run at only about 15% of capacity, so they can replace even less. Seven solar plants or four wind farms would be needed to produce the same amount of electricity over time as a similar-sized coal-fired plant. And all that extra solar and wind capacity is expensive.

In Europe, rather than seeking to increase the availability of low cost electricity, governments enforce scarcity by manipulating the factors influencing electricity prices such as “regulatory structures—including taxes and other user fees, investment in renewable energy technologies, and the mix and cost of fuels.”

In the EU governments interfere with electricity markets, and enforce the use of inferior electricity sources such as wind and solar, resulting in subsidies, taxes, feed-in tariffs, materials and labour, forcing the consumer to pay the ultimate costs. Rather than seeking to increase the availability of low cost electricity, governments enforce scarcity by manipulating the factors influencing electricity prices such as regulatory structures—including taxes and other user fees, investment in renewable energy technologies, and the mix and cost of fuels. In Germany for example, “taxes and levies account for about half of retail electricity prices, [and] transmission system operators charge residential consumers a renewable energy levy that is used to subsidise certain renewable generation facilities.” (Alex Epstein) This is in addition to policies which penalise coal and nuclear electricity generators.


DISAGREE 3:

Fossil Fuel energy costs do not factor in all the ‘hidden’ costs

“Investing in clean energy is not only good for the economic growth, it is good for people. The unfortunate reality is that those in the poorest countries are often the most vulnerable to climate change — whether from rising seas that threaten homes and water supplies or droughts that drive up food prices. This is the human cost of fossil fuels that often goes unmentioned in balance sheets and gross domestic product statistics.”

If the full cost of fossil fuel generation (including climate impact) were included then the costs would be comparable.

“Typically, the ones who claim that wind and solar will bring trouble to the grid are the old players, who failed to take renewable energy seriously and over-invested in fossil fuel capacities instead. Renewable energy is now eating their profits and making their old business models out-of-date” (Greenpeace.de)

Those who argue that wind is expensive and unnecessary are quite simply wrong.  Because Ireland has such a good wind energy resource, we can get cheap clean electricity from it. Making comparisons with other countries about wind effectiveness is not always valid.  Ireland has a uniquely strong resource.  We have one of the lowest support regimes and wind is not raising electricity prices.”(Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland 2014)

Ireland is highly dependent on imported fossil fuels – for 89 per cent of its energy, spending €6.5 billion per year on imports – just over half of this on transport. In the past five years renewable energy has saved over €1 billion in fossil fuel imports; has reduced CO2 emissions by 12 million tonnes and has not added to consumers’ bills. The potential for wind and other provides the opportunity for greater energy independence, reducing carbon footprint, national competiveness leading to greater control over energy prices.

Growing our use of renewable energy is also vital for our national competitiveness, giving us greater control over our energy prices. “Less reliance on fossil fuels gives us greater certainty on our energy prices, rather than leaving us at the mercy of international commodity price rises. It also helps attract foreign investment, as more global companies seek access to clean energy as part of their location decisions.” (SEAI 2014)

The costs of some renewable energy inputs such as Photovoltaic solar panels have halved in price since 2008 and the capital cost of a solar-power plant—of which panels account for slightly under half—fell by 22 percent between 2010 and 2013. In a few sunny places, solar power is providing electricity to the grid as cheaply as conventional coal- or gas-fired power plants.

As the large utilities’ fossil and nuclear plants become more expensive and alternatives become cheaper, savvy consumers are looking to decrease their dependence on the utilities’ power supply. To cope, the utilities are trying to decouple their increasing costs from the amount of electricity they sell, further increasing the cost advantages of renewables and other alternatives. Renewables, with zero-marginal-costs, helped push down wholesale prices to 8-year lows in 2013.

Most sources of electricity, including coal, natural gas, and nuclear are and have historically been subsidized with both implicit and explicit subsidies, including the same types of tax credits afforded to wind and solar. For example:

Explicit subsidies: Nuclear receives a Production Tax Credit, similar to Wind. Natural Gas gets access to the Oil and Gas Exploration & Development Expensing subsidy.

Implicit subsidies through the tax payer for example in the US, subsidises cover the costs of catastrophic insurance for nuclear plants, because there is no way their owners could afford to clean up after a Fukushima-style disaster. And, of course, the ultimate implicit subsidy – the cost of environmental damage due to pollution and CO2 production, for which we all pay and will continue to pay for generations.

Also hidden costs such as bonus payouts to CEOs of the top 5 oil companies estimated at US$1tn (£650bn or €888bn) for fossil fuel exploration and extraction over nine years, reflecting the confidence of top oil companies that demand will remain high for decades to come.

The combined 2014 upstream (Upstream operations deal primarily with the exploration stages of the oil and gas industry, with upstream firms taking the first steps to first locate, test and drill for oil and gas. Later, once reserves are proven, upstream firms will extract any oil and gas from the reserve) capital spending bill for the big five is three and a half times the sum devoted to research and development by the world’s five biggest-spending drug firms. It is also equivalent to more than 14% of the combined stock market value of Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron, Total and BP.

Currently, renewables are more expensive than fossil fuels. BUT, this is changing rapidly. There are various types of renewables – onshore wind is the most cost competitive and offshore wind is heading that way but will likely remain more expensive; the large scale solar power costs are rapidly reducing, hydro power – marine, tidal stream, dams, run-of-river – are currently more expensive but some large-scale projects such as the Severn Barrage in the UK are competitive.

Given the interest in the private sector for renewable energy – it must be big business, with giants like Wal-Mart, Google and General Electric that have been increasing in clean energy investments. Billionaire Warrant Buffett recently spent US$5.6 billion for a renewable energy company in Nevada and a US$2.4 billion investment in a wind farm in California. Many oil companies are involved in the development of more reliable renewable energy technologies. Already for example, BP has become one of the world’s leading providers of solar energy through its BP Solar division. Dong Energy and EDP have built up balanced energy portfolios which include higher shares of renewables. Their renewable assets are making more profits than their thermal ones.

Fossil fuel companies are benefitting from global subsidies of US$5.3tn (£3.4tn) a year, equivalent to US$10m a minute every day. This subsidy estimated for 2015 is greater than the total health spending of all the world’s governments and 6.5% of global GDP.  The vast sum is largely due to polluters not paying the costs imposed on governments by the burning of coal, oil and gas. These include the harm caused to local populations by air pollution as well as to people across the globe affected by the floods, droughts and storms being driven by climate change.

This very important analysis shatters the myth that fossil fuels are cheap by showing just how huge their real costs are. There is no justification for these enormous subsidies for fossil fuels, which distort markets and damages economies, particularly in poorer countries… A more complete estimate of the costs due to climate change would show the implicit subsidies for fossil fuels are much bigger even than this report suggests.” (IMF 2015)

The need for subsidies for renewable energy –$120bn a year – would disappear if fossil fuel prices reflected the full cost of their impacts.


AGREE 4:

Renewable energy utilises too much land, meaning problems in scalability and storage.

A problem with solar and wind energy is the sheer scale of land that is required to obtain as much energy as even a small coal fire power plant can produce. Storing renewable energy more effectively and inexpensive energy from wind or solar could become much more viable than they are currently. However right now, no cost effective forms of energy storage exist, and are not foreseen.

The area of productive land required to provide for one Australian is over 7 hectares per person.  The US figure is closer to 12 hectares.  However, the amount of productive land per person on the planet is about 1.3 hectares and by the time we reach 9 billion it will be close to 0.8 hectares. In other words Australians have a footprint about 10 times greater than all could share.

Renewables are so much less energy dense than conventional generation, meaning so much more land is required. The British economist David McKay estimated that to meet the UK’s electricity needs from offshore wind would require 44,000 3MW turbines in a 4km wide band around the entire 3,000km coastline of the country. And if the wind stops, well...”  (Ted Trainer)

The best option is to use electricity to pump water up into dams, then generate with this later.  This works well, but the capacity is very limited.  World hydro generating capacity is about 7 – 10% of electricity demand, so there would often be times when it could not come anywhere near topping up supply. Hydroelectric power is cost effective and does not suffer from intermittency, but have been linked to impacting on the ecosystems in which they are installed and affecting settlements and livelihoods.

Very large scale production of renewable energy, especially via solar thermal and PV farms located at the most favourable regions, will involve long distance transmission. European supply from solar thermal fields will probably have to be via several thousand kilometre long HVDC (high-voltage, direct current) lines from North Africa and the Middle East. Expected power losses from long distance plus local distribution are predicted to be around 15 percent. This makes it different than coal, natural gas, and nuclear, and in some senses worse. It means that it can’t supply 100 percent of our needs, and intermittency needs to be factored into any electricity system design. An intelligently designed energy system using very basic “smart grid” technology could support easily up to 25 percent production from intermittent renewables without significant strain on resources.


DISAGREE 4:

Many renewable technologies are scalable, and perceived problems regarding land, noise and animal welfare can be overcome.

Many renewable technologies are very scalable. The much hyped DeserTec project pointed to a new model for electricity generation for Europe with massive PV arrays in North Africa. Difficult, expensive… but do-able.

All of the scalability problems are surmountable. Doing so requires a new, far more complex, energy system with new technologies and new policy tools.

The really fun bit will come when electric vehicles and demand-side-management become a mainstream reality. Finally, we would have the beginnings of a sustainable energy system.”

Land use: The land used for renewable energy projects, like wind farms, can still be used for farming and cattle grazing. International experience has shown that livestock are completely unaffected by the presence of wind farms and will often graze right up to the base of wind turbines.

Noise: Studies have shown that noise complaints, especially those related to wind farms, are often unrelated to actual noise. In most cases it was found that people were actually opposed to the farms on aesthetic grounds – which would be the same with coal or nuclear plants. It was also found that ‘noise’ complaints dropped off rapidly when local communities derived income from the renewable energy projects in question.

Birds and bats: A common argument against wind farms is that they kill birds and bats. However, if environmental impact assessments are conducted and migratory and local bird population patterns are assessed before construction, this is avoided completely. It is vital that these assessments are made to ensure the safety of birds and bats, as with any development project


AGREE 5:

Demand is increasing globally 

The total world energy demand is for about 400 quadrillion British Thermal Units (BTUs) annually. One ‘BTU’ is about the energy and heat generated by a match. Oil, coal and natural gas supply about 350 quadrillion BTUs. Oil provides most of this, around 41 percent of the world’s total energy supplies (164 quadrillion BTUs). Coal provides 24 percent (96 quadrillion BTUs), and natural gas provides the remaining 22 percent (88 quadrillion BTUs).

By the year 2020, world energy consumption is projected to increase by around 50 percent – an additional 207 quadrillion BTUs. As outlined in previous points, renewable energies would not be able to meet this increasing demand.


DISAGREE 5:

Demand is decreasing in significant parts of the world, for example the European Union

Total and peak electricity demand in the European Union started to slow in the 1990s, and have been falling since 2007 (with the exception of in 2009). Total demand in the EU-27 fell by around 2.5% from 2007 to 2012. Demand also fell in several large national markets: by 7.5% in the UK, 4.3% in Italy, 3.4% in Spain and 3.2% in Germany. In the first 11 months of 2013, demand fell by a further 2.6% in Spain and 3.5% in Italy (where Enel, the country’s major electricity producer, reported an even larger drop in its nine-month report); in the first nine months of 2013, demand in Germany fell by1.1 percent.

Europe today has about twice as much installed generation capacity as peak demand would warrant.


Finally..:

The Clean Air Act of the late 1950s means that today a building stays the same colour as when new. The catalytic converter means that vehicles are cleaner than even thought possible 25 years ago. It prevents sulphurs entering the atmosphere and turns unburnt or half-burnt carbons into CO2. Why? Because CO2 is harmless. More CO2 provides more plant food and is, in effect, greening the planet.

New cars require only half the engine size to produce the same power and twice the mileage. Electric generators that 25 years ago were around 30 per cent efficient are now around 70 per cent efficient. Yet the ‘greens’ would have us adopt wind generation, solar power or electric cars, none of which can ever approach the efficiency of boiling water to achieve a 600 times expansion and thus power the world as economically as is possible to date. Green policies cause more damage.

In conclusion, it is our responsibility to advance alternative power. However, we should remember that low-cost electricity generation is crucial to the economy. It increases income and employment in all sectors, the purchasing power of the consumer, and makes exports more competitive. Renewable energy certainly can supplement conventional power, and its use will likely continue to steadily grow. Nevertheless, realistically speaking, it can’t entirely replace non-renewable fuels anytime soon.


Finally..:

Eventually, the degree to which we depend on fossil fuels will have to lessen as the planet’s known supplies diminish, the difficulty and cost of tapping remaining reserves increases, and the effect of their continued use on our planet grows more dire. But shifting to new energy sources will take time which we don’t have” (NowIreland)

“The number one way to cut emissions quickly and get back to 350ppm is to stop burning dirty coal as soon as possible. Without coal, we must find a way to make cheap, renewable energy widely available in order to ensure all communities the right to develop cleanly.” (350.org 2013)

If we contemplate the finite dimension of our earth and our (over)consumption of our natural environment, the reality of extinction spreads beyond fossil fuels:

Soil quality–erosion of topsoil, depleted minerals, added salt

Fresh water–depletion of aquifers that only replenish over thousands of years

Deforestation–cutting down trees faster than they can regrow

Ore quality–depletion of high quality ores, leaving only low quality ores

Extinction of other species–as we build more structures and disturb more land, we remove habitat that other species use, or pollute it

Pollution–many types: CO2, heavy metals, noise, smog, fine particles, radiation, etc.

Arable land per person, as population continues to rise. In light of these ‘costs’ of fossil fuels, renewable energy is a solid alternative to meet the energy demands of our world.


Photo: Alternative energies by Guerito (2005) CC-BY-NC Via Flickr

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