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Over 85 percent of energy used in the United States comes from fossil fuels, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Natural gas, oil and coal are the fossil fuels utilized to create energy. The demand for these fossil fuels is expected to increase in coming decades due to an expanding economy. While these fossil fuels provide reliable energy for consumers, there are some major risks associated with the energy source.
Fossil fuel is a nonrenewable natural resource, meaning that it cannot be replenished, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The energy source is created from buried plant and animal remains from millions of years ago. The limited nature of fossil fuels means we cannot rely on it indefinitely because, at some point, it will be gone. Focusing on expanding access to renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, can lessen the impact of low fossil fuel resources.
Turning fossil fuels into energy produces a variety of emissions that pollute our planet's air and water, according to the EPA. The pollution threatens the environment and its ecosystems. It can also have a negative impact on your health. Reducing the consumption of fossil fuels helps minimize the pollution and damage done by the use of fossil fuels.
The combustion of oil, gas and coal produces carbon dioxide, which contributes to the greenhouse effect by blanketing the atmosphere. Rising sea levels, change in vegetation growth and other major changes to the Earth may result from the greenhouse effect.
Burning coal creates an additional pollutant in the form of sulfur dioxide. When it combines with oxygen and water, the sulfur dioxide creates acid rain. The acid rain often harms fish, trees and limestone buildings and statues.
Collecting fossil fuels presents serious dangers to the workers and the environment. An accident during the collection of gas, oil and coal may cause death or injury to the people mining the materials. Coal mine explosions and collapses are one example of accidents that threaten the safety of the employees. The BP oil spill in 2010 is a good example of the destruction that can result from a fossil fuel accident.
The mining process itself can cause damage to the environment. Vegetation and ecosystems near the mining spot are often damaged. Dust and pollution may be emitted during the collection process.
- Fuel Storage Tank image by Jim Mills from Fotolia.com