The Effect Of Fossil Fuels On Biodiversity And Alternative Energy Resources

1498 words - 6 pages

The Effect of Fossil Fuels on Biodiversity & Alternative Energy ResourcesFossil fuels are hydrocarbon deposits derived from the remains of ancient plants and animals under enormous amounts of heat and pressure. Oil, or petroleum, is one of the most common fossil fuels utilized by people all over the world on a daily basis. Crude oil is a smelly, yellow-black, viscous liquid composed of mostly nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur, which is found in underground reservoirs. Oil is nonrenewable which means once it's extracted from the earth, it takes thousands of years to replace. It has been an abundant resource for many years, but it has the potential to run out because it takes so long for it to replenish (Moan & Smith, 2013). The United States produces 11% of the world's total petroleum. It's obtained by drilling into rock layers and extracting the oil deposits from them. A derrick must be built to hold the necessary tools and pipes to carry the oil. Then, it's sent to a refinery where it is separated by density in distillation towers, converted into lighter hydrocarbon molecules, treated, and stored in tanks and sent out in pipelines. Oil can be made into usable petroleum products, such as diesel, jet fuel, gasoline, ink, crayons, or even tires; however, oil is used mainly for transportation purposes (gasoline and jet fuel are the most common). Although oil does give certain advantages to everyday life, it has a negative environmental impact. When oil is burned, carbon dioxide can be emitted. Carbon dioxide is the leading cause of global warming. Oil affects biodiversity because the harmful emissions of smoke and other gases when it's being burned is harmful to plants and animals living in water and on land, including humans. Respiratory illnesses and heart diseases are just two of the possible effects of being around highly polluted areas, especially in children and the elderly ("Oil (petroleum)," n.d.).Because oil is a nonrenewable resource, finding other forms of energy is a necessary step in order to create a more energy-efficient and environmentally safe world. Solar power is one of the options for a different source of energy. It is obtained from solar radiation (renewable energy) which can in turn be converted into heat or electricity. Solar energy is anywhere the sun shines; in fact, California, Arizona, and Nevada have some of the world's largest solar-thermal power plants. Solar power is split into two forms. First, Photovoltaic (PV) devices, or solar cells, are arranged into silicon panels and can be used to convert sunlight (photons) directly into electricity or heat to benefit homes and/or even large power plants. PV systems operate by having photons hit a solar cell and having their electrons removed from the atom. When the electrons leave their position, there's an imbalance in charges so ultimately, there is potential for voltage (energy). Second, Solar Thermal/Electric Power Plants are used and they concentrate solar energy and...

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