Fossil fuels are utilized worldwide to fuel everything from vehicles to household appliances.
However, there is now a lot of controversy around the usage of fossil fuels – is it ethical to consume them? Is it safe to use them?
Coal, oil, and natural gas are examples of nonrenewable natural resources.
Fossil fuels are so-called because they are derived from the remnants of prehistoric animals and dead plants. Some fossil fuel sources date back around 650 million years!
For most of the world’s population, fossil fuel is the dominant energy generation source. Until 2019, fossil fuels represented over 80% of US energy consumption.
For several decades, fossil fuels have been a contentious issue. Some individuals think they’re the best energy source, while others think they’re bad for the environment ad we need other alternative sources.
In this piece, we will look at the benefits and drawbacks of fossil fuels to help you determine what you think about them.
Table of Contents
Pros of Fossil Fuels
Let us first begin with the pros of fossil fuels and understand why they are still preferred as a primary source in most nations.
1. Cheap Source Of Energy
Profoundly, fossil fuels are among the world’s most affordable energy sources.
And because the government substantially subsidizes them, fossil fuels have such low costs and are a steady energy supply.
While the refining and extraction process is quite costly, the return on investment is tremendous.
Advanced technologies are now available to extract fossil products with high efficiency, thus lowering the overall cost.
In recent years, fossil-fuel extraction has been less expensive than establishing solar or wind technology.
The fact that the fossil fuel industry can meet the demands of the whole human population indicates that they are abundant.
Fossil fuels are present in nearly every country on the planet. This element gives governments peace of mind that they will not be depleted soon.
We already have many workers harvesting coal and oil, for example, from all over the world in areas rich in fossil fuels, using all of the gear specifically developed and manufactured for the extraction of fossil fuels.
As a result, it is preferable to utilize fossil fuels since we have already spent a significant amount of time, effort, and money acquiring and utilizing them.
The world’s supply of fossil fuels is immense, and enough reserves are projected to cover the global supply for the next 40 years.
3. Highly Efficient
Fossil fuels are very efficient because significant amounts of energy can be created with a small amount.
So far, petroleum is the only one known to be highly efficient in powering motorcars such as automobiles and buses.
Regardless of advancements in renewable energy resources, no renewable energy source can compete with the efficiency provided by fossil fuels.
Considering the minimal gasoline required to propel an automobile, you’ll see that these concentrated hydrocarbons deliver a lot of bang for your money.
4. Economic Benefits
Fossil fuels may add to a region’s prosperity. When you examine the economies of gas and oil-producing countries, you will see a consistent pattern: economic success.
Billion-dollar government subsidies to fossil fuel companies contributing to a state’s growth are more than persuasive.
Consider how many nations worldwide rely heavily on fossil fuels, the number of companies that rely on them, and the number of innovations that would not be possible without them right now.
In such an instance, you begin to grasp how fossil fuels have benefited our daily lives’ energy demands.
5. Easy To Transport And Store
Because of technological advances, fossil fuels are now reasonably safe and easy to move.
The transportation of fossil fuels does not jeopardize human health. Fossil fuels are gathered worldwide and effectively transported across long distances before consumption.
Pipelines allow fossil fuels to be delivered across great distances in a straightforward, quick, and dependable method.
Even though building those pipes is initially reasonably pricey, it undoubtedly pays off in the long term because it is considerably cheaper than hauling fossil fuels across great distances to power plants.
Because fossil fuels comprise carbon and hydrogen molecules, they are incredibly stable energy storage.
And due to the continuous state of their molecular makeup, they are straightforward to store.
They do not synthesize other chemicals when kept in cans for extended periods, which makes fossil fuels easier and safer to transport than other fuel types.
This characteristic is advantageous since we may plan for times when we require them, such as during the winter.
Cons of Fossil Fuels
Here are the primary drawbacks of fossil fuels and why we should strive to replace them with more ecologically sustainable alternatives.
1. Finite Energy Source
Unlike renewable resources such as solar energy, hydropower, and wind energy, fossil fuels may vanish.
Regarding hydropower generation, do you know dams made to store water are good for generating revenue? Check out here how dams can do that.
The worry of fossil fuel depletion (a finite resource) renders them unreliable in the long run.
For instance, you can build a coal power station in a specific region, but the reserves will be exhausted over time, making the facility uneconomical.
Before investing in a particular place, experts should evaluate the availability of fossil fuels.
There is also concern that crude oil supplies in the Middle East would be exhausted, prompting governments in such areas to engage in diversification measures.
This is a fantastic decision on their part- building a whole economy on something that will be gone in years will have a detrimental impact on our world.
2. Public Health Issues
The usage of fossil fuels can result in a range of major public health issues.
In the long term, air pollution caused by the usage of fossil fuels can lead to respiratory disorders such as asthma or lung cancer.
The coal production process accounts for 13 to 26% of total airborne mercury emissions in the United States.
Furthermore, infections and pandemics are more likely to emerge and increase due to water pollution.
Thus, the usage of fossil fuels may inadvertently lead to a rise in the number of fatalities on our planet, particularly in impoverished developing nations.
3. Climate Change And Global Warming
Because of their significant carbon footprint, fossil fuels are not a green or sustainable source and have harmful environmental effects.
Carbon dioxide is ejected when fossil fuels are burned- greenhouse gas emissions contribute to air pollution and ozone layer depletion.
The heat trapped by greenhouse gases such as Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere results in altered weather patterns such as higher temperatures, more droughts, acid rain, unpredictable rainfall, and a less livable world.
These factors of carbon emissions eventually contribute to global warming.
Aside from that, mining organic matter and operating fossil fuel plants are causing environmental deterioration.
According to the newest IPCC assessment, it is critical to end coal mining and cut oil and gas consumption by 60% and 70% by 2050, respectively, compared to 2019 levels, to limit global warming to +1.5°C.
4. Dangerous To Produce
Mining is a potentially hazardous industry with fatal consequences. Despite technological advancements, there is still a human factor that might come at a high cost.
Mining catastrophes are not a relic of the past; the Upper Big Branch Mine tragedy in West Virginia in 2010 killed 29 workers, the Sago Mine disaster in the same state four years earlier claimed 12 lives, and the Kohistan mine collapse in Afghanistan in 2019 claimed at least 30 lives.
Miners will continue buried in mine disasters unless we transition to better energy plans.
Both oil and gas are unstable and combustible, and there have been several reports of refineries and oil rigs exploding or fires breaking out.
It’s not simply the damage or the risk to the lives of personnel and firefighters; there’s also the chance of poisonous chemicals being emitted.
5. Source Of Geopolitical Conflict
Fossil fuels have the potential to be a source of international strife. This is because countries with substantial fossil fuel deposits have much leverage over other nations.
This has the potential to escalate to armed confrontations between countries.
However, countries such as the United States and other European nations commonly wage wars, particularly in the Middle East, to keep countries with colossal oil deposits under control.
Furthermore, oil is a critical element of the petrodollar system, which guarantees the US dollar’s financial dominance as the world’s reserve currency to this day.
6. Engineering challenges
The process of extracting this form of fuel is full of challenges.
Costly investments, machining processes, industrial processes, and unharming natural processes are complex engineering for every fossil fuel divestment.
Summary (Pros and cons of fossil fuels)
|Cheap Source Of Energy|
|Easy To Transport And Store|
|Finite Energy Source|
|Public Health Issues|
|Climate Change And Global Warming|
|Dangerous To Produce|
|Source Of Geopolitical Conflict|
On the one hand, fossil fuel is an absolute need in today’s world because no other renewable energy source can give the same efficiency.
Everything we touch, see, or hear is powered by energy derived from fossil fuels. While we look at the pros, it is essential to note that the environmental damage caused by fossil fuels is nearly irreversible.
Hence, for the sake of the entire world and living species, effective renewable sources should be identified and adopted as soon as feasible.
(Last Updated on October 8, 2022)