FOSSIL FUELS

 

 

 

IT US KILLS GETTING IT OUT - Mining is traditionally a dangerous occupation. If a mine collapse does not get you, the carcinogenic dust will do you no good.

 

 

Fossil fuels kick started our industrial revolution, powered steam ships and generated electricity as we released the energy in coal and later oil, to make things happen at a faster pace. Cars and aircraft being an example of things we now take for granted that pollute big time.

 

But it was a brilliant time for engineers and town planners who thought they could rely of this energy source without any consequences. Because after all the world is a big place. Surely humans could not alter the delicate ecological balance of planet earth just by driving a few cars and lighting a few home fires. Then came central heating. Sh*#%

 

Sadly, we can. We did and we still are, even though we now know how dangerous our excesses are to other species - and we are also set for extinction if we do nothing to swap fossil fuels for clean renewable energy sources.

 

 

 

 

Fossil fuels are hydrocarbons, primarily coal, fuel oil or natural gas, formed from the remains of dead plants and animals.

The utilization of fossil fuels has enabled large-scale industrial development and largely supplanted water-driven mills, as well as the combustion of wood or peat for heat.

Fossil fuel is a general term for buried combustible geologic deposits of organic materials, formed from decayed plants and animals that have been converted to crude oil, coal, natural gas, or heavy oils by exposure to heat and pressure in the earth's crust over hundreds of millions of years.

The burning of fossil fuels by humans is the largest source of emissions of carbon dioxide, which is one of the greenhouse gases that allows radiative forcing and contributes to global warming.

A small portion of hydrocarbon-based fuels are biofuels derived from atmospheric carbon dioxide, and thus do not increase the net amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

 

 

 

 

Generally speaking, oil and gas are formed from the organic remains of marine organisms which become entrained within sea-floor sediments. Coal, by contrast, is typically formed in non-marine settings from the remains of land vegetation.

Oil and gas formation begins with the accumulation of organics on the sea-floor; these are the dead remains of organisms living in the water column, such as microscopic plankton, which rain down on the sea floor below.

 

This will only occur in rather unusual settings, where the sea floor is stagnant such that there is no oxygen present to break the organic remains down and no sea-floor dwelling organisms present that might feed on the organics. A high sediment accumulation rate of may also help to bury the organics before the action of decay can break them down.

 

As the sediment pile becomes deeper the organics within it are subjected to heat and pressure which leads to formation of oil and then gas. For oil and gas extraction, it is important that the source rock is not 'over-cooked' or the hydrocarbons will be destroyed. There must be suitable reservoir-rock, such as a porous sandstone, into which the hydrocarbons can migrate and accumulate.

 

This must be overlain by an impervious cap-rock, such as a clay, which prevents the hydrocarbons from escaping to the surface. Finally, the geometry of the reservoir and cap-rock bodies must be such that the hydrocarbons become trapped; usually folding will suffice.

 

 

 

 

A fossil fuel is a fuel formed by natural processes, such as anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms, containing energy originating in ancient photosynthesis. The age of the organisms and their resulting fossil fuels is typically millions of years, and sometimes exceeds 650 million years. Fossil fuels contain high percentages of carbon and include petroleum, coal, and natural gas. Other commonly used derivatives include kerosene and propane. Fossil fuels range from volatile materials with low carbon to hydrogen ratios like methane, to liquids like petroleum, to nonvolatile materials composed of almost pure carbon, like anthracite coal. Methane can be found in hydrocarbon fields either alone, associated with oil, or in the form of methane clathrates.

Fossil fuels are of great importance because they can be burned (oxidized to carbon dioxide and water), producing significant amounts of energy per unit mass. The use of coal as a fuel predates recorded history. Coal was used to run furnaces for the melting of metal ore. Semi-solid hydrocarbons from seeps were also burned in ancient times, but these materials were mostly used for waterproofing and embalming.

Commercial exploitation of petroleum began in the 19th century, largely to replace oils from animal sources (notably whale oil) for use in oil lamps.

Natural gas, once flared-off as an unneeded byproduct of petroleum production, is now considered a very valuable resource. Natural gas deposits are also the main source of the element helium.

Heavy crude oil, which is much more viscous than conventional crude oil, and oil sands, where bitumen is found mixed with sand and clay, began to become more important as sources of fossil fuel as of the early 2000s. Oil shale and similar materials are sedimentary rocks containing kerogen, a complex mixture of high-molecular weight organic compounds, which yield synthetic crude oil when heated (pyrolyzed). These materials have yet to be fully exploited commercially. With additional processing, they can be employed in lieu of other already established fossil fuel deposits. More recently, there has been disinvestment from exploitation of such resources due to their high carbon cost, relative to more easily processed reserves.

Prior to the latter half of the 18th century, windmills and watermills provided the energy needed for industry such as milling flour, sawing wood or pumping water, and burning wood or peat provided domestic heat. The widescale use of fossil fuels, coal at first and petroleum later, to fire steam engines enabled the Industrial Revolution. At the same time, gas lights using natural gas or coal gas were coming into wide use. The invention of the internal combustion engine and its use in automobiles and trucks greatly increased the demand for gasoline and diesel oil, both made from fossil fuels. Other forms of transportation, railways and aircraft, also required fossil fuels. The other major use for fossil fuels is in generating electricity and as feedstock for the petrochemical industry. Tar, a leftover of petroleum extraction, is used in construction of roads. 

 

 

 

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ENVIROMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS

The United States holds less than 5% of the world's population, but due to large houses and private cars, uses more than 25% of the world's supply of fossil fuels. As the largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, CO2 from fossil fuel combustion, accounted for 80 percent of [its] weighted emissions in 1998. Combustion of fossil fuels also produces other air pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds and heavy metals.

According to Environment Canada:

"The electricity sector is unique among industrial sectors in its very large contribution to emissions associated with nearly all air issues. Electricity generation produces a large share of Canadian nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide emissions, which contribute to smog and acid rain and the formation of fine particulate matter. It is the largest uncontrolled industrial source of mercury emissions in Canada. Fossil fuel-fired electric power plants also emit carbon dioxide, which may contribute to climate change. In addition, the sector has significant impacts on water and habitat and species. In particular, hydropower dams and transmission lines have significant effects on water and biodiversity."

According to U.S. Scientist Jerry Mahlman and USA Today: Mahlman, who crafted the IPCC language used to define levels of scientific certainty, says the new report will lay the blame at the feet of fossil fuels with "virtual certainty," meaning 99% sure. That's a significant jump from "likely," or 66% sure, in the group's last report in 2001, Mahlman says. His role in this year's effort involved spending two months reviewing the more than 1,600 pages of research that went into the new assessment.

Combustion of fossil fuels generates sulfuric, carbonic, and nitric acids, which fall to Earth as acid rain, impacting both natural areas and the built environment. Monuments and sculptures made from marble and limestone are particularly vulnerable, as the acids dissolve calcium carbonate.

Fossil fuels also contain radioactive materials, mainly uranium and thorium, which are released into the atmosphere. In 2000, about 12,000 tonnes of thorium and 5,000 tonnes of uranium were released worldwide from burning coal. It is estimated that during 1982, US coal burning released 155 times as much radioactivity into the atmosphere as the Three Mile Island accident.

Burning coal also generates large amounts of bottom ash and fly ash. These materials are used in a wide variety of applications, utilizing, for example, about 40% of the US production.

Harvesting, processing, and distributing fossil fuels can also create environmental concerns. Coal mining methods, particularly mountaintop removal and strip mining, have negative environmental impacts, and offshore oil drilling poses a hazard to aquatic organisms. Fossil fuel wells can contribute to methane production via fugitive gas emissions. Oil refineries also have negative environmental impacts, including air and water pollution. Transportation of coal requires the use of diesel-powered locomotives, while crude oil is typically transported by tanker ships, each of which requires the combustion of additional fossil fuels.

Environmental regulation uses a variety of approaches to limit these emissions, such as command-and-control (which mandates the amount of pollution or the technology used), economic incentives, or voluntary programs.

An example of such regulation in the USA is the "EPA is implementing policies to reduce airborne mercury emissions. Under regulations issued in 2005, coal-fired power plants will need to reduce their emissions by 70 percent by 2018."

In economic terms, pollution from fossil fuels is regarded as a negative externality. Taxation is considered one way to make societal costs explicit, in order to 'internalize' the cost of pollution. This aims to make fossil fuels more expensive, thereby reducing their use and the amount of pollution associated with them, along with raising the funds necessary to counteract these factors.

According to Rodman D. Griffin, "The burning of coal and oil have saved inestimable amounts of time and labor while substantially raising living standards around the world". Although the use of fossil fuels may seem beneficial to our lives, this act is playing a role on global warming and it is said to be dangerous for the future.

Moreover, these environmental pollutions impacts on the human beings because its particles of the fossil fuel on the air cause negative health effects when inhaled by people. These health effects include premature death, acute respiratory illness, aggravated asthma, chronic bronchitis and decreased lung function. So, the poor, undernourished, very young and very old, and people with preexisting respiratory disease and other ill health, are more at risk.

 

 

ECONOMICS

Europe spent 406 billion on importing fossil fuels in 2011 and 545 billion in 2012. This is around three times more than the cost of the Greek bailout up to 2013. In 2012 wind energy in Europe avoided 9.6 billion of fossil fuel costs. The International Energy Agency estimated 2017 global government fossil fuel subsidies to have been $300 billion.

A 2015 report studied 20 fossil fuel companies and found that, while highly profitable, the hidden economic cost to society was also large.

 

The report spans the period 20082012 and notes that: "For all companies and all years, the economic cost to society of their CO2 emissions was greater than their after‐tax profit, with the single exception of ExxonMobil in 2008."

Pure coal companies fare even worse: "the economic cost to society exceeds total revenue in all years, with this cost varying between nearly $2 and nearly $9 per $1 of revenue."

In this case, total revenue includes "employment, taxes, supply purchases, and indirect employment."

 

 

LINKS & REFERENCE

 

https://www.britannica.com/science/global-warming

 

 

 

 

 This website is provided on a free basis as a public information service. copyright Climate Change Trust 2019. Solar Studios, BN271RF, United Kingdom.

 

 

 

 

CONTINUED USE OF FOSSIL FUELS WILL CAUSE EARTH'S TEMPERATURE TO RISE AND EXTINCTION