Fossil fuels are utilized all over the world to power up everything, from lights to cars. Their most common forms are coal, petroleum and natural gas, which have been formed over millions of years through decomposition of dead plants and animals that existed on the Earth since time. This means that there is actually a finite amount of each of these energy sources. But what if we have used up all of them in the future? Well, we already have some alternative power sources, such as solar, wind and hydro, to support our daily activities.
Over the years, there have been a lot of hot debates over the use of fossil fuels, based on several factors, including safety, sustainability and many others. To reach a well-informed opinion on this matter ourselves, it is best to look at the pros and cons of fossil fuels.
List of Pros of Fossil Fuels
1. High Availability
For many decades now, we have been relying on fossil fuels, with everything in place and in order to gather and utilize these essential energy resources. For instance, there are already plenty of people gathering oil and coal from many places in the world that are rich in fossil fuels, utilizing specially designed pieces of equipment. This has been a big reason among proponents who push that it is better to use fossil fuels because of the substantial amount of time, effort and money that are already put into them.
The technology that is being used in harnessing fossil fuel energy is well-developed. The primary reason for this is that these power sources are already being used all over the world for many decades.
3. Easy to Find
In actual fact, fossil fuels are very easy to find, as they occur all over the world, mostly in very rich parts deep inside the earth. This means that, once we have committed to getting gas or coal out of the ground or the sea, then we are guaranteed to get a lot of resources from those particular areas. Also, considering that they occur all over the globe means that all countries will have access to at least some of these fossil fuels, but this does not always happens due to world politics.
4. Low Cost and Reliability
Most fossil fuels are known to be cheap and reliable energy sources. Also, they are excellent to use for the energy base-load, unlike some of the more unreliable energy sources, such as solar and wind.
As fossil fuels are extremely efficient, they can generate substantial amounts of power, even if they are just used in small amounts, like in the case of coal and oil. So far, petroleum is still without a doubt the most effective fuel for automobiles, and no renewable power source has at least even come close to producing the same amount of energy that fossil fuels do.
List of Cons of Fossil Fuels
1. Environmental Issues
Perhaps, this is the biggest con of using fossil fuels, considering the amount of pollution they can cause. The direct effects of burning fossil fuels are even well documented by scientists and researchers from all over the world. As you can see, their combustion releases carbon dioxide into the air, which is also believed to have a direct link to global warming.
Fossil fuels are non-renewable sources of energy, which are believed to be having reserves that cannot be replenished naturally and an amount that is finite. However, this is not entirely correct, as they are produced by natural processes, such as the anaerobic decomposition of organic matter. The thing is, the process would take millions of years, unlike renewable energy sources, like solar and wind, which are always available.
3. Truckloads of Reserves
Power comes from power stations, where coal is being burned to produce energy. However, to ensure these facilities keep operating, huge amounts of coal are required to be brought in each day, which means truckloads and trainloads of fuel are being used for its shipments to the power stations on a regular basis in order to keep up the energy demand of homes, commercial establishments, factories and other facilities that highly depend on it. Other chose to build stations very close to large deposits of coal to eliminate such exhausting process. A consequence of this method of power generation is also the high cost of transportation.
4. Public Health Problems
As previously mentioned, burning fossil fuels is not friendly to the environment, causing pollution that is one of the primary causes of death among children every year. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 7 million premature deaths that happen yearly are linked to air pollution. So, people who are living in areas with large amounts of traffic are at high risk.
5. High Risk of Accidents
Though energy production through fossil fuels does not pose risks of accidents that are not as serious as those in producing nuclear power, it will never have the safety of renewable power sources, such as solar and wind. Once again, it has the qualities that can damage the environment, not to mention that it always risks oil spills. As you can see, huge tankers carry oil from one place to another and can sometimes run aground or crash, spilling their content into the sea and on the coasts nearby. This can be disastrous not only for the species that live in the sea, but also for the animals and people on land. While these accidents do not occur on frequent occasions, they can obliterate hundreds, if not thousands, of affected fishes and animals. Take for example the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico; it did cause severe environmental damage that had a serious impact on the animals and people there.
Like other sources of energy, fossil fuels definitely come with their own set of pros and cons. Based on those listed in this article, do you think that it is all right to use these energy sources?
Crystal Lombardo is a contributing editor for Vision Launch. Crystal is a seasoned writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience. She has been an editor of three popular blogs that each have had over 500,000 monthly readers.