Fossil fuels are natural but non renewable source fuels or organic compounds made of hydrogen and carbon that develop through the natural decomposition of plants and animals over thousands of years. The fuels are used in three forms petroleum oil, natural gas and coal, the most plentiful fossil fuel. They are inexpensive, easy to mine, storable and readily available but only for an estimated 60 years. A clean renewable source or sources must replace fossil fuel dependence.
Forms of fossil fuel provide us with almost all of our electricity, gasoline and heat in colder climates, the problem is that Earth’s crude oil supply is limited and nonrenewable. Crude oil takes millions of years to develop under extreme conditions and can not be synthetically fabricated or recreated. Existing gas station and highway infrastructures are literally built around the distribution of petroleum oil or gas for cars. Because of the immense span of this system a replacement fuel must be designed to work with our current fossil fuel based infrastructure or the expense of a complete new one becomes a financially daunting, huge construction project.
In addition to being non-renewable and difficult tricky to replace at the pumps, fossil fuels are responsible for massive environmental damage. Car and plane emissions contribute to global climate change, acid rain and ozone layer depletion. As the Middle East has the biggest supply of natural fossil fuels, shipping it across the ocean has in the past has lead to massive oil spills which can have a major detrimental effect on ocean and animal life.
Our massive dependence on foreign oil causes a very tense competitive trading environment where the U.S. has no control of the price of oil or the amounts available. If we do not run out first we could reenter a national fuel crisis if foreign sources refuse to supply or trade with us because of politics. The duration of our use of fossil fuels is therefore dependent on our trading relations with oil rich areas like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran and Iraq. A cutting off of the supply already occurred in the “Mideast Oil Crisis” of the 1970’s and next time we need to be prepared. Crude oil reserves will last, at best sixty more years and only half of that time if our supply from the Middle East is terminated before it is completely depleted. Nuclear energy power plants are again under construction to maintain power and heat to homes. This generation will see the end of our fossil fuels supply if we are ready or not. Hopefully together we can safely transition to alternatives rather than panic as we literally run out of gas.
As awareness arises, kids and adults are encouraged, sometimes through government grants and carpool lanes to walk, ride bikes or carpool together to work or school to conserve our precious fossil fuel supply. Thousands of new green jobs are on the stage for creation and must be seized with innovation and enthusiasm to encourage sustainable and renewable fuel sources for future generations.
While environmental education provides incentive for some, others will be encouraged to lessen use of fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions for monetary reasons. Many insist on a tax of fossil fuel to subsidize clean energy. Kyoto, informally known as the Earth Summit is an international environmental treaty intended to achieve worldwide stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. The time for a change from fossil fuel is a number one worldwide issue best approached with quick action and innovation and with a clean and green, alternative fuel powered tomorrow in our minds’ eye.