The formation of fossil fuels takes a long time. Millions of years are needed for this process to be completed. The process of fossil fuels formation is not clearly understood. Heat, pressure, and millions of centuries enhance chemical changes in the decayed remnants of animals and plants. The formation of fossil fuels occurs in the rocks. The main energy sources around the globe include coal, petroleum, natural gas, and carbon. All of them are fossil fuels. Constant increase in energy consumption increases the use of fossil fuels and this is the primary environmental concern (“Energy resources: Fossil fuels”, 2014). Although fossil fuels are a valuable source of energy people should find new energy sources due to numerous negative effects.
People began to use fossil fuels in the 18th century. At first, they were used as an energy source that increased the economic growth and ensured prosperity. Later, coal was widely used to move steam locomotives. The increase of coal use was explained by the limited resources of firewood and charcoal. During the 19th century, coal was the cause of rapid industrialization. People began to use it to heat and lighten their homes. It also initiated the development of drilling technologies in the USA. As a result, petroleum became a mass consumption product and was used to power different means of transport including cars, airplanes, ships, and trains.
Many environmental problems are closely associated with the increased dependence on fossil fuels. The major negative consequences of fossil fuels use are global warming, increase of sea level, deterioration of air quality, oil spills, and acid rains. In addition, the burning of fossil fuels is considered to be the largest source of carbon dioxide emission. It leads to climate change, global warming, and numerous issues related to human health, surrounding environment, and the country’s economy (“The problem with fossil fuels”, n.d.).
Global warming is caused by the burning of fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide is blamed for this influence. The gas traps heat in the atmosphere (Gallucci, 2014). The rise of temperature will result in the increased sea level, the melting of glaciers, inundation of river deltas, and pollution. The change of weather patterns may lead to the extreme weather conditions having disastrous effects on the agricultural zones.
Fossil fuels are also associated with air pollution. Polluted air is harmful and causes the formation of ozone holes. Vehicles are the main source of carbon monoxide emissions that cause numerous health-related issues. Land and water pollution are the next negative influences of fossil fuel burning. Another negative effect is thermal pollution. The process of electricity generation produces heat and makes it release into the atmosphere. Heated water in lakes and rivers is bad for the aquatic ecosystem (“The hidden cost of fossil fuels”, 2014). Moreover, fossil fuels produce smoke, dust, soot and other particulates that are extreme respiratory irritants.
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Acid rains destroy farmers’ crops and destroy buildings. Human health is also affected by the fossil fuel burning. Hence, more and more people suffer from lung dysfunctions, asthma, bronchitis, and others. Increasing cost of fossil fuels disables people from being able to pay for them. In addition, fossil fuels are non-renewable and humanity requires alternative energy sources to reduce or eliminate the negative influences and avert disasters.
The negative influence of fossil fuels and the fact that that they cannot be renewed has made people find and implement other energy sources. Energy is around people and may be derived from multiple sources (“Fossil fuels and energy use”, n.d.). Wind, solar and water power are the alternative sources that gain their popularity in the modern world.
Wind power is derived from wind through the generation of turbines. Solar power may be received at the low cost. Its price has been constantly decreasing and it makes this type of energy become accessible to many people (“What are alternative energy sources?”, 2014). This enhances the use of solar energy even in the remote areas. Thermal mass systems are used to store this energy and produce heat from it. Water power is received with the help of dams. But they are not always required. The energy derived from the sun, water and wind can be stored (Boyle, 2004). Special plants are built to store it. In addition, the alternative energy sources are renewable and there is a decreased possibility of their overuse.
The United States of America is one of the countries that are strongly dependent on fossil fuels. Despite huge costs spent on the development of alternative energy source, the country get over 82% of its energy from fossil fuels causing extreme greenhouse emissions and negatively influencing people’s health. However, the country has begun to produce alternative energy using mainly wind and solar power (Goodman, 2001).
Thus, fossil fuels are the largest emitters of greenhouse gas in the world. Burning of fossil fuels produces electricity, but at the same time it leads to the extreme concentration of air pollutants. The key problem is the absorption of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The increased awareness and good understanding of issues related to fossil fuels and realization of the importance of renewable energy may substantially decrease or even eliminate problems related to fossil fuels and their use. Humanity should understand the influence of fossil fuels on their health, environment, and global change and unite their efforts in increasing the use of alternative energy sources. It will definitely prolong their lives, make the air and water cleaner, and prevent the increase of sea level.
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