This essay explores the use of fossil fuels and argues that current methods used to fuel our world are not sustainable. I will present the case that new energy sources need to be investigated and adopted worldwide in order to save our planet. There is a trend of thinking that the use of fossil fuels is a thing of the past, and alternative energy sources need to be invented and adopted globally. Currently, though uses of fossil fuels have clear drawbacks, alternative energy sources are not capable to meet the global energy demands yet. There are two main reasons for needing to find alternative energy sources. Firstly, there is compelling evidence that the use of fossil fuels damages the environment and secondly our fossil fuel reserves will soon run out. The use of fossil fuels is directly responsible for air pollution and global warming. The potential danger while collecting fossil fuels is also extensive. For example, an oil spill can have detrimental effects on our ecosystem. There are various governmental and non-governmental institutions opposed to tapping into vast oil reserves because of the risks it presents. The most recent disaster is the BP Oil Spill1; this will affect our eco system for years to come. The need and use of global energy is expanding, our planet is getting more dependent and thirsty for energy and there is an urgent need to find alternative energy sources to feed our needs. At the moment, there are actually only very few methods available to harness energy.
This has led to a passion for developing new and clean energy sources, which in turn has led to complacency that other methods will be developed and that a way to meet our growing energy needs will be easily met. Some experts believe that our fossil fuel reserves will be finished within half a century, while others predict that they will last for another 120 years. Either way it is clear that we are running out of time as the use of fossil fuels are a basic need in our society today. It is also clear that our need for energy will certainly not fall and it will indeed increase, it is therefore imperative that we prepare ourselves for a new era of energy production. In the next decade world energy consumption is expected to rise by 50%, to 600 quadrillions BTU2. According to the US Department of Energy, fossil fuels will be exploited by the 22nd century if renewable energy sources are not developed to higher efficiency. Renewable sources of energy are unable to run out as they create their own energy and the problem that we now face is how to develop the appropriate technology to harness these new methods effectively and efficiently. There are many examples of renewable energy in existence, for example solar power. Technology has been developed to make it possible to store solar energy for later use, for instance after the sun has gone down, however, this technology is currently unaffordable and it will need vast improvement for it to be possible to use instead of our existing infrastructure. There is a town in New Zealand and a village in Italy currently producing enough solar power to meet their daily needs and The European Photovoltaic Industry Association3 predicts that solar power will be able to supply 26 percent of global energy requirements by 2040.
Wind, tidal and hydroelectric power are all driven by pressure; wind force and water currents passing through a turbine can create power, while hydroelectric power can be derived through a number of different methods such as through the Hoover Dam in the Colorado River. Tidal power is another way to harness hydroelectric energy and has been used for several decades already, using the movement of tides to create power. Biomass is another alternative source of renewable energy; this is derived from the burning of plants and is one of the first sources of energy ever used by human. Until relatively recently, the developed world used wood as a source of heat and is now mostly regarded for aesthetic purposes. However, there are approximately 2 billion people in the developing world who still use wood as a source of heating and cooking food. Biomass also has other derivatives such as bio diesel and ethanol and these are direct substitutes for oil in the automobile industry. All of these alternative energy sources are clean, renewable and eco-friendly. However, the commencing costs to generate energy from these substitutes is incredibly expensive, not every country will be able to afford to invest in the necessary research needed to improve these renewable energy methods. Countries such as Italy, the USA, Austria, New Zealand and Norway are already producing renewable energies and the UK aim to reduce their carbon emissions by 60 percent by 2025, hoping to make all the energy from renewable sources 4. In conclusion, it is not feasible to insist that affordable, cost effective and sustainable renewable energies can be adopted fully in the next decade or so. There are many significant alternatives and therefore the solution must be to use our existing renewable energies in tandem with current fossil fuel methods in order to meet our global energy demands5.