Fossil Fuels: Are they Worth the Cost?

Fossil Fuels: Are they Worth the Cost?

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Fossil Fuels: Are they Worth the Cost?

Fossil fuels are a very important part of our society today. Natural gas, Coal, and oil are the world’s primary and most important source of energy. “90% of the energy we use in this country [USA] comes from fossil fuels.” (Source 3) Unfortunately, there are costs of using these fossil fuels to run our society. Some costs are obvious such as the cost of labor, equipment and supplies needed to extract, refine and transport the fossil fuels. These costs are taken care of in electricity bills, in the price of gasoline for automobiles and other governmental and company funding. There are many other costs that are less obvious. These costs are the effects fossil fuels have on our environment and on human health. Air pollution caused by the burning of coal and oil as well as dust in mines is causing problems for human health. The environment is suffering from acid rain, global warming and water and air pollution. Many times, the costs go unpaid for and unnoticed. It is imperative that we as a society take responsibility and strive to reduce the negative effects of fossil fuels on our environment.

The global warming is a major environmental issue that is caused by the use of fossil fuels. When fossil fuels are burned, carbon dioxide is emitted. It captures heat in the earth’s atmosphere. What is happening is that the more carbon dioxide emitted the warmer the earth’s climate is getting. I know some may be thinking that warm weather is great! Keep the global warming and the carbon dioxide coming! Global warming, however, is seriously dangerous for our society, economy, and our environment. Global warming can cause coastal cities to go under water due to a rise in sea level because of melting glaciers. Agriculture will be greatly affected as well. If temperatures keep rising, farmers will have to go through more extreme droughts. Global warming is caused by the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and has many adverse effects on the environment, our societies, and our economies.

Another cost of fossil fuels is air pollution.

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We need clean air to live. Carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, and hydrocarbons plus particulates put into the air from burning fossil fuels cause air pollution. Air pollution can cause head aches, add stress to people with heart problems, can cause bronchitis and pneumonia, and can also produce smog and acid rain. “Acidic pollution [rain], arising from the emission of the oxides of sulphur and nitrogen, is implicated in the increasing incidence of asthma and other respiratory diseases, the acidification of lakes, and damage to trees and buildings.” (Source 2) Smog is the haziness that can be seen in a city skyline. “Human exposure to ozone [smog] can produce shortness of breath and, over time, permanent lung damage.”(Source 1) When fossil fuels are burned, gases are emitted that pollute the air and cause severe health problems aw well as acid rain and smog.

Our land and water are being polluted by the use of fossil fuels. Oil spills and other accidents can pollute our water and kill all plant and animal life in our rivers and lakes. Coal mining has serious effects on our land. After mining has been done, the land will be barren. Other materials brought up with the coal are left at the sites as waste and are destroying the earth’s topsoil. Precautions need to be taken in order to reduce the amounts of oil spills and waste deposits at mine sites in order to keep our land and waters clean.

The government has put restrictions on the amount of fossil fuels that can be used as well as restrictions on how much carbon dioxide and other pollutants can be emitted. Although the government is attempting to save our planet, they are not trying hard enough. The limits are not sufficiently low enough. We as a society need to keep the issue of environment in mind when it is time for another election. If the environment does not become of more importance to us we will be left with a polluted world that is hard to live in.

WORKS CITED

http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/health_and_environment/page.cfm?pageID=88

http://www.fusion.org.uk/susdev/fossil.htm

http://www.umich.edu/~envst320/fossil.html
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