HD close up of coal, one of the most common fossil fuels

The Advantages & Disadvantages of Fossil Fuels

In this article, we’re going to go over the advantages and disadvantages of fossil fuels. Out of all the energy the world harnesses & creates, fossil fuels account for about 80% of that. We use fossil fuels to power our cars, trucks, trains, boats, lights, and even electric vehicles. There is quite the debate going on at the moment. As clean energy becomes more affordable and efficient why are we still using fossil fuels? And are fossil fuels even safe? Should we be putting a limit on the amount that we are using?

First of all, What are Fossil Fuels?

One of the fossil fuels coal being burned .
Burning of coal

Fossil fuel is a fuel formed by a natural process in which buried dead organisms containing energy from millions of years ago decompose. Sometimes fossil fuels can be from a dead organism that exceeds 650 million years old. Some examples of fossil fuels are:

Fossil fuels are usually called a “non-renewable resource,” but this is not scientifically accurate. If the accepted theory is correct, this means that fossil fuels are renewable. If humans are still around in a few million years, they might have access to abundant amounts of fossil fuels. But hopefully, they don’t need them.

Advantages of Fossil Fuels

Gas station at night time being one of the advantages of fossil fuels
  • We are already setup to harvest fossil fuels

Fossil fuels are already setup to be harvested. We have factories, employees, and all kinds of equipment dedicated solely to fossil fuels. The money that would be needed to set all of this up is in the billions. Humans have already done all the hard work in setting up the infrastructure.

  • Fossil fuels have created millions of jobs and help grow the economy

Millions of people are employed every year by the farming of fossil fuels. If fossil fuels weren’t around, global economies would take a hit.

  • They’re built into the infrastructure

Humans have relied on fossil fuels heavily for the last 100-200 years. Most cars are built to use them, most homes are heated with them, and many industries are powered by them. Fossil fuels are an integral part of the way humans live at the moment. If something were to happen, and fossil fuels all disappeared today, we would be in some serious trouble.

Fossil fuels being excavated by heavy machinery
  • Fossil fuels are cheaper than green alternatives

Fossil fuels create huge amounts of energy. A tiny piece of coal can create phenomenal amounts of energy.

Sunset or sunrise at a wind power farm. Clean energy as far as the eye can see
Wind farm
  •  Fossil fuels are easy to transport

No matter what region fossil fuels are from, they can be transported around the globe with ease. Solar energy and wind energy must be deployed in the region that they originate. There is a problem getting clean energy to regions where solar & wind are not applicable.

  •  The primary source of all plastics is fossil fuels

Although we’re seeing some serious issues around the globe with plastics not being recycled properly, they’re still a huge part of the world today. Plastic production is fossil fuel-intensive and carbon-heavy.

Disadvantages of Fossil Fuels

Shore line view of machines diging for fossil fuels on the coast
  • Fossil fuels are a non-renewable resource

Once humans use all of the fossil fuels on earth, they’re gone forever. It takes millions of years for fossil fuels to form.

  • Fossil fuels are a large greenhouse gas emitter.

Releasing carbon into the atmosphere creates global warming. This carbon acts like a blanket around the earth and traps in heat from the sun. This is leading to climate changes worldwide.

HD earth from space
  •  Potential for catastrophic damage

Like we saw in April of 2010, oil spills cause serious damage to the environment. Disasters like these don’t happen when you’re dealing with solar or wind energy.

  • Fossil fuels create smog

When humans live in a smoggy city for long periods of time it can do some serious damage to their health. These health risks are a direct link to fossil fuels.

City filled with smog
  •  Global movements pushing towards clean alternatives

As global warming becomes a worldwide issue, people are pushing for clean alternatives. The amount of money needed to build solar and wind farms that produce the same amount of energy that fossil fuels do currently is incomprehensible.

Pro’s and Con’s of Fossil Fuels

HD close up of coal, one of the most common fossil fuels
Pro’s of Fossil Fuels Con’s of Fossil Fuels
Infrastructure is already setup Non-renewable
Employ’s millions Lead contributor to global warming
We’re already setup to harvest fossil fuels Oil spills and disasters happen
Fossil fuels are cheap Smog harms human health
Easy to transport Built on an outdated system

Alternatives to Fossil Fuels

Why do we still use Fossil Fuels?

HD close up of coal, one of the most common fossil fuels

The main reason we’re still using fossil fuels is that they’re cheap & the infrastructure is already setup. For us to make the change to clean energy there’s an expensive price tag. Not to mention the problems that come with storing and transporting clean energy.

Hopefully, in the next 50 years, we will see some major changes. As battery technology and solar panel efficiency get better, we should see the world moving towards clean energy in the future. In California, a new bill has been passed that all new homes built after 2020 must have solar panels on the roof. This is just one of many needed steps in the right direction.

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