Humanity and the way we live have changed drastically in the last 20 to 25 years. Technology developed into a primary driving force behind the social and economic development experienced around the world. The quick progression of Information Technology (IT) globally changed everything that we know. This includes how we do business, how we conceptualize business and even how we do the most basic tasks in our homes.
Every facet of human life is impacted by technology and the Internet, especially.
Unsurprisingly, every gadget, gizmo and electronic device operates on electricity. As such, the usage of electricity is greater than ever and it is doing so beyond our current earthly capabilities.
But where does the majority of the energy comes from to produce that electricity?
Supplied to World's Energy
According to the World Energy report, in 2011, fossil fuels supplied 83% of the world’s energy. That includes gas, oil and coal, which are sourced from underground. During 2014, worldwide consumption of coal and natural gas increased by 0.4%. In addition, consumption of oil increased by 0.8% around the world.
It is predicted that by 2020, these resources will diminish to 76%. By then, other renewable resources like nuclear power will increase.
What Are Fossil Fuels?
“A fossil fuel is a fuel formed by natural processes, such as anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms, containing energy originating in ancient photosynthesis. The age of the organisms and their resulting fossil fuels is typically millions of years and sometimes exceeds 650 million years. Fossil fuels contain high percentages of carbon and include petroleum, coal and natural gas.”
If you recall your early lessons in school, you will remember learning that carbon dioxide is breathed by trees. However, the carbon component is accumulated in their trunks.
Supposedly, as the earth aged through millions of years, these trees disappeared into the earth but the carbon was not lost. It was simply accumulating. The pressure from the earth caused that carbon to turn into a fossil.
Humans, being their exploring selves, dug up these fossils and burn them for energy.
It is a similar occurrence for oil and gas, apart from the fact that they were initially minuscule sea creatures. They accumulated the carbon in their bodies in addition to their shells. The guts of these animals have the carbon as well, and that got buried.
Humans Depend on Fossil Fuel
Industrialization would not have occurred if countries did not make use of fossil fuels. Everything we have today, cars, trains, airplanes, factories and manufacturing plants all run on these kinds of non-renewable energy. Devoid of fossil fuels, we could not have the enjoyable end products and benefits.
When you look at the population in countries like India and China, it is easy to understand the exponential statistics that show how fast these resources are running out. And still, their populations are exploding and their needs for energy escalate uncontrollably.
Fossil Fuels and the Greenhouse Effect
The dilemma comes in when we burn up fossil fuels to create electricity. It is also used to propel our vehicles and a plethora of other ways. But at the end of the day, all this is sent into the atmosphere, which negatively adds greenhouse gases.
This is supported by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They state
“Greenhouse gases trap heat and make the planet warmer. Human activities are responsible for almost all of the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere over the last 150 years. The largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities in the United States is from burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation.”
The EPA identifies the main cause of these greenhouse gas emissions to include:
- Over 90 percent of the fuel used for transportation is petroleum based, which includes gasoline and diesel.”
– Approximately 68 percent of our electricity comes from burning fossil fuels, mostly coal and natural gas.”
– Come from burning fossil fuels for energy, as well as greenhouse gas emissions from certain chemical reactions necessary to produce goods from raw materials.”
– Emissions from businesses and homes arise primarily from fossil fuels burned for heat, the use of certain products that contain greenhouse gases, and the handling of waste.”
– Comes from agriculture come from livestock such as cows, agricultural soils, and rice production.”
– Land areas can act as a sink (absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere) or a source of greenhouse gas emissions. In the United States, since 1990, managed forests and other lands have absorbed more CO2 from the atmosphere than they emit.”
Another causative effect is pollution. This is extremely evident in major cities where humans cluster together and there is a major presence of vehicles that utilize this nonrenewable energy.
People generally show a lot more illnesses related to breathing in these harmful substances. Bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia and lung cancer are just a few of them. Even though we know the risks, some countries, like China, are still constructing coal-fired power stations, rather than investing in renewable energy sources like solar, wind and water energy.
In 2013, World Energy report stated that China single-handedly employs more coal than the rest of the planet combined. As such, “world energy consumption increased by 56 percent between 1985 and 2001.”
When Is Fossil Fuels Due To Run Out?
The further predicament in using so much fossil fuel is that they are due to run out. Not many people object to this because then governments will be forced to create or use renewable energy sources.
So regardless of whether we agree or not, with the thought of people causing climate change, we ought to explore alternatives.
Because fossils fuels are extremely more expensive plus difficult to find, renewable energy will turn out to be more affordable as technology advances. It will be offered globally and become easily accessible. Regrettably, renewable energy is limited. However, that reality will not last for long.
Fossil fuels records indicate that based on the world's demand for energy, many of us could live to see the evaporation of these non-renewable resources. Oil is expected to last another 50 years, natural gas 70 years, but coal should last longer, maybe another 200 years.
How Can We Change Our Dependency On Fossil Fuels?
Let us examine closely the changing energy use in the UK. They aim to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. It is also their objective, to amplify the quantity of energy that is derived from renewable sources.
The European Union has committed to using at least 20% more energy from renewable sources by 2020. Though every state has set a different target, the United Kingdom chose a more realistic target.
Reducing the demand for energy and helping people and businesses to use energy more efficiently
The UK aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly by encouraging people, and businesses to:
So far, there are laws and stipulations enforced in the country. For example, there are some to force vehicles to be converted into more energy-efficient vehicles and to emit a reduced amount of atmospheric greenhouse gasses. They have hiked up fuel and road taxes.
Regardless, people are using these means of transport so much more now and as such, the amount of CO2 emitted by these vehicles progress exponentially. The government also offers grants to people who make their home more energy efficient.
For more information check out “How the UK is Progressing.”
Renewable and Non-Renewable Energy Resources
Every living thing on earth depends on the sun for energy. It is our life source. That includes both plants and animals, whether they are birds, amphibians, reptiles, mammals or fish.
Without out the sun’s energy that is stored by animals and plants, everything would die. But once that energy is absorbed, it never really dies. It is transferred to the earth when we are all buried. That is in turn developed over millions of years into fossil fuels.
Eventually, the fossil fuels that we have now will one day be depleted, which makes them non-renewable. But if we invest in renewable energy, our world will not be so greatly impacted. They would be a more sustainable way of generating energy. Renewable or infinite energy resources are power sources, which can be stock up themselves again and again, without human intervention. These include the sun, water and air.