Energy and Fossil Fuels
Energy is all around us and is needed for the growth or formation of almost everything around us. There are many sources of energy in our world. We can get energy from the sun, from wind, and from falling water. We can also get energy from materials that contain stored energy. We call these materials "fuels."The most important sources of energy today are the fossil fuels.
Nearly all other sources of energy originally received their energy from the sun. Organic matter, like plants, convert solar energy into leaves, flowers and fruits. Animals, which eat organic matter, convert the energy into body mass. When the plants and animals die,their energy is broken down and over a long time, becomes stored as oil, natural gas, coal or peat.
Fossil fuels take a long time to form. If we go back in geological history, we find that it took between 350 and 50 million years for our fossil fuels to form. As the fuels take so long to form, and they need special conditions to form, most geologists feel that little or no new fossil fuel is being produced. For this reason, we call fossil fuels "non-renewable" or finite.
As more and more fossil fuels are used those that are the easiest to find will be used up first. As time goes on it will be harder to find new reserves of the fuels and the cost of extracting them will increase. Eventually the stage will be reached when it will not be economically viable to extract the fuel and another source of energy will be used. In the 19th Century people stopped hunting whales for whale oil, not because of concern for the whales but because it became cheaper to use petroleum for their lamps. In Britain, very little coal is now mined because it is cheaper to import the coal from places like Poland.
1 Name four different sources of energy?
2 Why do you think Fossil Fuels get their name?
3 How long do fossil fuels take to form?
4 Why are fossil fuels said to be non-renewable or finite?
5 What do we mean by renewable energy?
6 A resource is the total amount of something that can be found on the Earth. For example, when we talk of the Earth's oil resources we mean all the oil on the Earth. When we talk of oil reserves, we mean all the oil that it is possible to find economically or making a profit, using today's technology.
Do you think the Earth will use up all its Fossil Fuel resources? Explain your answer.