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Dirty Energy? Pros and Cons of Fossil Fuels

Jul 09, 2016 05:49 AM EDT
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Fossil fuels have long been the center of the energy debate. While the economics favor its usage, the environment's response is the opposite.

Fossil fuels are natural resources such as coal, oil (including gasoline and diesel fuel) and natural gas. For centuries, these energy resources have powered more than half of the planet, but they have left severe environmental impacts, too, including air and water pollution, environmental degradation and extreme global warming.

While fossil fuels give significant benefits to human's way of life, these fuels have also left massive consequences that humans and our planet have to deal with.

Below, we enumerate some of the pros and cons of fossil fuels.

PROS

Fossil fuels are economically cheap

Fossil fuels are generally concentrated in big deposits and are readily available. In fact, a coal power plant is one of the cheapest means of electricity production, making it highly ideal for third world countries.

Fossil fuels do not need much investment

Fossil fuels are created by the decomposition of organisms that existed millions of years ago which technically means we do not need high-cost investments for start up alternatives, unlike for renewable energies, such as PV panels or wind turbines.

Fossil fuels can be efficient

Energy Informative said its long existence has given us time to harness the energy in fossil fuels. It is one of the main reasons that fossil fuels have been used to power our world for many decades.

CONS

Fossil fuels have a severe impact on the environment

Coal is a fossil fuel that is burnt in order to produce electricity for humans. But while it satisfies our energy needs, it also poses damages to the environment. The Union of Concerned Scientists notes that coal plants are a top source of carbon dioxide emissions, the primary cause of global warming, making it a "dirty" source of energy.

It severely affects human health

Aside from carbon dioxide, it also releases nitrogen oxide that results in air pollution and acid rain that can be harmful to both human and wildlife. In addition, coal mining is a tough and dangerous job that often endangers the lives of laborers.

Fossil fuels are non-renewable

Fossil fuels are non-renewable, which is why they would surely deplete one day. As explained by National Geographic, fossil fuels cannot be replenished in a short period of time, as it was formed hundreds of millions of years ago, even before the dinosaurs existed.

Because of its significant use, completely eliminating fossil fuels may be intimidating, but its consequences must also be considered.

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