What is Fossil Fuel? The Dirty Facts About Fossil Fuels
Mining, drilling, and consumed harmful fuels cause great damage to the environment and our health. In this article, we’ll examine everything you need to know about fossil fuels and why we need to embrace a clean energy future.
For more than a century, Fossil Fuels has been generating most of the energy needed to run our cars, to use the workforce efficiently, and to keep the lights in our homes on. Even today, the oil, coal, and gas trio meet about 80 percent of our energy needs. We are also paying the price for this.
Using Fossil Fuels for energy; Beyond all the negative effects of petroleum-based products such as plastics and chemicals, it has caused a tremendous cost on humanity and the environment, from air and water pollution to global warming. Here’s a look at what those fossil fuels are, what they cost us (beyond our wallet), and why it’s time to move into a clean energy future.
What Are Fossil Fuels?
Coal, crude oil, and natural gas are considered fossil fuels. These consist of fossilized buried remains of plants and animals that lived millions of years ago. The origin of fossil fuels has a high carbon content.
Examples of Fossil Fuels
Crude oil, or petroleum (referred to as “shale oil” in Latin), is a liquid fossil fuel mostly composed of hydrocarbons (hydrogen and carbon compounds). Oil can be found in underground reservoirs, in cracks and pores of sedimentary rock, or tar sands near the earth’s surface, by drilling on land or at sea, or by open mining. After the oil is extracted, it is transported to refineries via tankers, trains, trucks, or pipelines. It is converted into usable fuels such as gasoline, propane, kerosene, jet fuel, or products such as plastic and paint.
Petroleum products meet approximately 37% of the energy needs of the USA, mostly in the transportation sector. In 2016, US oil consumption was 10% below the 2005 record level, despite the country’s economy has tripled since then. It was only 3% higher than the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) 1973-1974 embargo.
However, the relatively low gasoline prices have led to an increase in vehicle distances and increased interest in SUVs and light trucks, significantly increasing the use of oil in the last four years. Still, US consumption of petroleum products is expected to decrease by at least 2035, as fuel efficiency standards lead to cleaner-running vehicles. Continuous strengthening of clean car and fuel economy standards remains important to reduce oil consumption.
In the production of Fossil Fuels, the US has experienced a huge increase in the last decade.
The major reason for the increase in production is due to developments in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, which are booming technologies in shale oil and natural gas extraction. Horizontal drilling; allows producers to drill deep and outward, thus allowing more oil or gas to reach from a single well. Hydraulic breaking (also known as crushing) is designed to extract oil or natural gas from hard rock, including shale and other formations. Fracturing is when water mixed with chemicals is filled into a well and blasted at high enough pressure to break the rock and escape the oil or gas. This controversial extraction method creates several environmental and health problems, including air and water pollution.
Coal; Lignite, which differs largely according to its carbon content, is a carbon weighted rock that exists in four main types, namely, sub-bituminous, bituminous, and anthracite. Almost all of the coal used in the United States is sub-bituminous or bituminous. These types of coal, which are abundant in states such as Wyoming, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania, are medium quality coal in terms of their carbon content and the heat energy they can produce. Regardless of its type, coal is the most environmentally damaging fossil fuel with the highest carbon content in terms of emissions.
Coal is extracted in two different ways, namely underground mining, and surface mining: underground mining uses heavy machinery to cut coal out of deep beds underground, while surface mining (also known as open mining) all the soil above it to access the following coal deposits. and it removes layers of rock. About two-thirds of coal originating in the United States is mined by open mining. While both types of mining are harmful to the environment, open mining in particular is the most destructive. It uproots and pollutes the entire ecosystem in the mining area.
Power plants that currently use energy from coal; accounted for less than a third of US electricity production, compared to more than half in 2008. Cleaner, cheaper renewable energies such as natural gas, solar and wind, and energy-efficient technologies are much less economically attractive compared to coal. Despite the Trump administration’s resurgent industry promises, coal-fired power plants continue to close.
Composed mostly of methane, natural gas is generally classified into two distinct types, traditional or non-traditional, depending on where it is found underground. Conventional natural gas: found in porous and permeable rock deposits, oil reserves. And this can be accessed via standard drilling. Unconventional natural gas: a type of gas that essentially requires a special excitation technique such as rock crushing, which is very difficult and expensive to extract by normal drilling.
The development and improvement of drilling and rock breaking technology in the United States has led the country to become the world’s largest natural gas producer and also the largest consumer since 2009. Natural gas, which is abundant in the United States, meets approximately 30% of the US energy needs. Estimates show that natural gas will play an even greater role in the energy needs of the United States by 2050, exacerbating air and water pollution.
Fossil Fuels: Disadvantages
-A coal mine and waste ponds in Canada.
-Damage to Lands
-Discovering, processing, and transporting the underground oil, gas and coal deposits causes great damage to the lands where they are and our ecosystems. The fossil fuel industry needs large areas for infrastructure such as wells, pipelines, and access roads, as well as destroying many large and productive areas for processing, waste storage, and waste disposal facilities. In the case of open mining, all parts of the land are mined, including forests and all-mountain peaks. It is detonated to reveal its underground, coal, or oil. Soils exposed to chemical spills will never recover, even after operations have stopped.
As a result; The wildlife and habitat in that area (when land that is very important for breeding and migration disappears) becomes fragmented and destroyed. Species that cannot migrate disappear with the land, while migratory animals suffer greatly, forced from their habitats to a non-ideal habitat and compete with available wildlife for resources.
Fresh Water Resources Polluted by Fossil Fuels
Developing and accelerating coal, oil, and gas mining poses numerous threats to our waterways and groundwater. Coal mining operations spread the acid produced as a result of the processes into streams, rivers, and lakes. It-dumps large amounts of rock and soil into streams. Oil spills generated during extraction or transportation can contaminate drinking water supplies. It can endanger all freshwater and ocean ecosystems. Although the Environmental Protection Department is too late to recognize the situation, the fact that the hydraulic fracture process and the resulting toxic fluids also contaminate drinking water is obvious.
Meanwhile, all drilling, crushing, and mining operations generate enormous volumes of wastewater along with heavy metals, radioactive materials, and other harmful materials. Industries use these wastes that are likely to leak into waterways and as a result of leakage; Storage in open-air pits or underground wells at risk that could cause cancer, birth defects, neurological damage, and much more.
Fossil Fuels Emissions Problem
Fossil fuels emit harmful gases to the air during combustion. Every day, about 12.6 million Americans are exposed to the effects of poisonous gas emitted from active oil and gas wells, shipping, and processing facilities. These gases emitted into the air include gases that can cause serious harm, such as benzene (childhood leukemia and blood disorders) and formaldehyde (a cancer-causing chemical). This industry, with all its harms and effects, continues despite the growing evidence of the human health effects of the practice, and the harms are ignored. Mining operations also cause serious damage, especially for miners. Continuing mining activities in places such as the northern forests of Canada, in particular, may cause the release of huge carbon storages that are held naturally in nature.
Global Pollution Impacts
With the oil, coal, and gas we consume, we not only meet our energy needs but also direct the current global warming crisis. Fossil fuels produce large amounts of carbon dioxide when burned. Carbon emissions trap heat in the atmosphere and lead to climate change. In the United States, burning fossil fuels, especially in the energy and transportation sectors, accounts for about three-quarters of our carbon emissions.
Other Types of Air Pollution
When fossil fuels are burned, they emit more than carbon dioxide. Coal-fired power plants alone generate 42 percent of the hazardous mercury emissions (contributing to acid rain) in the United States, as well as two-thirds of sulfur dioxide emissions and the vast majority of soot (particulate matter) in our air. Meanwhile, fossil fuel-powered cars, trucks, and boats are the main constituents of the toxic carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide emitted into the air.
Fossil Fuels Damage to the
When we burn oil, coal, and natural gas, we change the basic chemistry of the ocean, making it more acidic. Our seas absorb a quarter of all human-induced carbon emissions. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution (starting with coal), the ocean has become 30% more acidic. As the acidity in our waters increases, the amount of calcium carbonate, a substance used by oysters, lobsters, and countless other marine organisms to form shells, decreases. This can slow their growth rate, weaken the crusts and tragically endanger the entire food chain. Ocean acidification is affecting life on the coast, with millions of dollars in damage to the oyster industry.
Building a Clean Energy Future
With the advancing technology and environmental awareness, we are no longer locked into a fossil-fueled future. Huge progress has been made in increasing renewable energy and energy efficiency in the United States over the past decade, thanks to federal, state, and local policies that have helped the clean energy economy grow. We are now using the energy produced much more efficiently than before.
In addition to falling prices, nationwide incentives are pushing our country and the world towards a cleaner, renewable energy sources such as wind and sun. Renewable energy is on the way to becoming a cheaper energy source than fossil fuels. This creates a boom in clean energy development and related employment. Significantly higher levels of renewable energy can be integrated into our existing grids more quickly if care is taken to deliver and build them responsibly.
Clean energy policy is our cheapest and largest source of energy and has contributed to the country’s energy needs more than oil, coal, natural gas, or nuclear energy in the last 40 years, and it also stands out as a business that employs more than 2.2 million people in the United States. is sinking. This number is at least 10 times higher than the employment need arising from oil and gas drilling or coal mining.
If we can implement the right policies, we are ready to make strong progress towards a clean energy future. A recent NRDC report reveals that we can reduce US fossil fuel use by 80 percent by 2050. To do this, we must electrify all modes of transport and remove fossil fuels from our buildings. We must halve all energy demand and grow renewable energy sources. To achieve this; It will require continuous-coordinated policy efforts from all levels of government, the private sector, and local communities. However, we know that we can do this by using proven clean energy technologies that we have today.