Fossil fuels are the formations that appear as a result of natural processes. The term “fossil fuel” is used to denote the buried deposits of organic materials. They appear from the remnants of decayed plankton, flora, and fauna and are further converted into coal, natural gas, heavy oils, or crude oil. Fossil fuels are created in the Earth’s crust through the exposure to heat and pressure. The formation process takes millions of years. Despite negative influences on the environment and people’s health, fossil fuels still remain the main energy source.
Fossil fuels include petroleum, natural gas, and coal. In addition, they contain high percentage of carbon. The first use of fossil fuels dates back to the 18th century. At that time, people began to use them to power the economy. During the Industrial Revolution, fossil fuels were the ideal energy source. Coal was widely used for steam locomotives and quintessential machines because of the lack of charcoal and firewood. At the end of the 19th - beginning of the 20th century, coal began to be associated with industrialization. Hence, there was an increase in the development of coal mining (Tillman & Harding, 2004).
Since the middle of the 19th century, fossil fuels were used to get petroleum that became extremely popular around the globe due to its ability to heat and lighten houses. Then, the Americans developed the drilling technology that lead to the mass consumption of petroleum. Therefore, it was used to power ships, vehicles, airplanes and generate electricity (Goodman, 2001).
Fossil fuel burning is the largest source of carbon dioxide emission that contributes to global warming, climate change as well as numerous health, environment, and economic issues. Carbon dioxide enhances radioactive forcing and is one of the main contributors to global warming. In addition, it causes the rise of the Earth’s temperature and numerous adverse effects. The most common health effects of burning fossil fuels are asthma, poor lung functioning, chronic bronchitis, premature death, and many others (Buckley, 2014). It also contributes to the occurrence of acid rain that destroys crops and marbles. In addition, the cost of fossil fuels constantly increases making people unable to pay for them. However, huge coal plants require regular and increased supply of coal to produce the needed quantity of electricity. However, fossil fuels are non-renewable, thus may run out one day. Therefore, people have been looking for new energy sources. Failure to address issues related to the use of fossil fuels might lead to great environmental and health disasters as well as multiple issues related to the lack of energy.
As the energy source of fossil fuels is limited and causes negative effects, the modern energy companies have been developing alternative energy sources. There exist the following alternative energy sources: solar, wind, and water power.
Solar power is derived from the sunlight. The fact that its cost has been decreasing over the last years has enhanced the use of sustainable energy sources expanding solar industry to global scopes (Garg, 1997). Nowadays, many solar companies are successfully growing at the lowest possible cost and the highest efficiency of solar technology. Humanity has developed many technologies to use solar power (Hall & Scrase, 1998). The systems of thermal mass are used to store this energy in the form of heat. Solar power means the absence of acid rains, urban smog, and any kind of pollution.
Wind power is produced by wind generators that harness the kinetic wind energy. This kind of power is gaining popularity around the globe as it is a huge source of energy (Wilkins, 2002). The greatest amount of wind energy comes from turbines; however, it satisfies only up to 1% of the global energy consumption.
Another source of alternative energy is water power or hydropower. It is obtained from the energy of running or falling water. Plants that depend on water power tend to use dams to store water in a special reservoir. Then, the water flows through a turbine, spins it, and activates a generator to produce electricity. However, dam is not a necessity to get water power; some plants use small canals and river water.
The USA is strongly dependent on fossil fuels. The Environmental Protection Agency states that the fossil fuel burning represents almost 80% of the US greenhouse gas emissions (Fossil Fuels, 2014). It is explained by the fact that the country gets more than 80% of the total energy from coal, natural gas, and oil. Hence, everything depends on fossil fuels.
The US renewable energy constitutes less than 13% of the domestically produced electricity. The country makes use of the water power that is currently the largest renewable energy source in the country. In fact, the USA is the fourth water power producer in the world. Wind power is another source that provides the nation with electricity. In addition, the country has several solar power stations that add to the amount of the renewable energy. The development of renewable energy and constant improvement of energy efficiency indicates a significant stage of energy exploration in the country (Boyle, 2014).
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Thus, the use of fossil fuels and emissions produced while burning them are the main drivers of climate change and the cause of health and economic problems. People realize the harmful effects of non-renewable fossil fuels and develop alternative energy sources such as solar, water, and wind power that will ensure human survival.