Updated: Sep 17
Dating back to the 17th and 18th century, fossil fuels have played a vital role in cultivating various parts of society. In 19th century England, the impact of industrialization, which led to the rapid urbanization of cities, led to mass pollution. To this day, the Earth is impacted from the harmful effects of fossil fuels. This is a global concern and must be addressed. While fossil fuels have provided economic growth to the world, there are consequences that must be discussed. To mitigate against such impacts, the use of clean energy such as solar and wind is vital to society. Our governments, industries and human population need to work towards limiting dependency on fossil fuels in order to shift towards clean energy. This leads us to one collective goal: to safeguard our planet so that future generations will not bear the costs of our actions.
The first concern that must be addressed is climate change. As many scientists have studied, the admission of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the burning of fossil fuels has led to the greenhouse effect. In which, global warming and climate change have led to melting polar ice caps and great disturbances to various ecosystems around the world. In addition, severe air pollution has been seen throughout severe weather events such as Canada’s wildfires. fossil fuel combustion reaction leads to pollutants being released such as sulfur dioxide (SO2) and particulate matter (PM). These dangerous pollutants have health impacts on both the environment and human beings. They lead to the formation of smog, acid rain and respiratory diseases in human beings.
Not only does the use of fossil fuels cause harm to the environment but also the extraction process. The extraction and processing of fossil fuels may result in water contamination. A notorious example is known as the BP Oil spill in 2010. Due to this event, there are horrific consequences for marine life, coastal ecosystems and our economy. In addition, coal mining can cause water pollution as there is the release of toxic metals and acid mine drainage.
Land degradation is another large concern from the use of fossil fuels. The extraction of fossil fuels can lead to habitat destruction and deforestation. The natural topography of our land is distributed from mining activities which causes the loss of biodiversity and threatens the balance of fragile ecosystems. In comparison, the depletion of natural resources from fossil fuels requires the use of non-renewable and finite resources such as coal, oil and gas.
This raises the question: What can we do? There are many rapidly growing industries supporting alternative and renewable energy sources. In the 21st century, there has been a rapid desire for solar energy. As many individuals in the United States have solar panels running their homes, businesses see the value in the use of solar energy. Popular companies such as Walmart and IKEA have embraced this idea. These companies are choosing to use solar energy and have the most solar capacity in the United States.
However the most important idea humans can embrace is energy efficiency. As a collective society, there needs to be a reduction in energy waste by lowering energy use in buildings, industries, and transportation. Together, we can decrease the demand for energy and transition to more renewable energy sources.
“Scotland - Sustainability - fossil Fuels - 3rd and 4th Level - S1, S2, S3 Classroom and Home Learning for Sustainability with BBC Bitesize Scotland - BBC Bitesize.” BBC News, 30 June 2022, www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/topics/znrwdp3/articles/zyjgvwx.
“Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.” Encyclopædia Britannica, www.britannica.com/event/Deepwater-Horizon-oil-spill. Accessed 1 July 2023.
“Solar Means Business 2014: Top U.S. Commercial Solar Users.” SEIA, www.seia.org/research-resources/solar-means-business-2014-top-us-commercial-solar-users#:~:text=Walmart%2C%20. Accessed 1 July 2023.