Renewable Energy vs Fossil Fuels: How Each Impacts the World

Fossil fuels were introduced during the Industrial Revolution. Back then, people started using fossil fuels to power plants and industries, without realizing how important it is to protect the environment. Nowadays, we still use fossil fuels as the main source of energy while some countries have tried the implementation of renewable energy. There had long been debated the effects of renewable energy vs fossil fuels, discussing the advantages and disadvantages.

Wind power, solar energy, and water energy all represent sources of alternative energy which continues to make progress. Alternative energy means energy that is produced from other sources than fossil fuels. Currently, fossil fuels represent the primary energy supply. This source of energy is provided with the help of coal, natural gas, and oil. We actually depend on these types of fossil fuels to fulfill our energy needs. They help us with electricity, transportation, fuel for automobiles and home heating.

However, fossil fuels are not renewable. Besides that, the fossil fuel emissions represent the greatest cause of air pollution. Furthermore, air pollution leads to ozone layer depletion, and then climate change effects started affecting our planet. Fossil fuels exist in limited amounts on Earth. Someday, the sources of coal, gas, and oil will be depleted.

Fossil fuels represent the remains of animals and plants which lived here hundreds of millions of years ago. They remained buried deep underneath the surface, and these remains turned into combustible materials. Nowadays, we use these combustible materials as fuel. Specialists indicate that the first fossil fuel deposits date back to the Cambrian Period, approximately 500 million years ago. That means they date back long before dinosaurs lived.

Fossil fuels vs renewable energy

Around 500 million years ago was when the major groups of animals appeared on Earth. The latest fossil fuels, like lignite coal and peat, started forming about 5 million years ago, during the Pliocene Period. Since we consume a lot, these fuels do not have time to occur fast enough to satisfy our needs. On the other hand, renewable energy sources only provide about 7% of our world’s energy needs.

Hence, fossil fuel and nuclear energy provide 93% of the energy sources in the world. Nuclear energy represents a source of non-renewable energy. This source of energy only provides 6% of the world’s energy needs. However, this will never become a major source of energy due to the dangers associated with the power of the atom.

But, on the other hand, there are great powers like the US which learned its vast potential and want to enforce the exploitation of nuclear energy in the world. The US Department of Energy indicates that the total world energy demand amounts to approximately 400 quadrillion British Thermal Units on an annual basis. This means that fossil fuels amount to 88% of the world’s energy needs, namely 350 quadrillions BTUs.

Experts indicate that out of this amount, oil is used in massive quantities, making up for 41% of the total energy needs. Hence, coal provides 24% of the globe’s energy, and natural gas provides 22% of the total amount of energy needed at a global level. Besides the fact that fossil fuel emissions also fuel the terrible effects of climate change, mining to get to these resources destroys many ecosystems and habitats.

The use of fossil fuels determined greater amounts greenhouse gases

The emissions of fossil fuel trigger high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This accumulation of gases triggers high temperatures. Hence, the planet overheats, affecting humans, plants, and animals at the same time. Global warming is the cause of coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef, and it is responsible for melting glaciers in the Arctic. These changes trigger a massive sea level rise while numerous species of animals and plants get extinct.

Therefore, oil production and fossil fuel mining caused terrible and irreparable damage to our environment. It is true that fossil fuels provide an extremely valuable service for us. However, they still damage the world we live in. By the process of burning fossil fuels, more carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere. Hence, the level of greenhouse gases increases, trapping the light coming from the sun.

This results in hotter weather and increased temperatures. Specialists indicate that the fossil fuel combustion represents the greatest contributing factor to the emission of greenhouse gases. In the 20th century, specialists indicate that the global average temperature increased with 1 degree Fahrenheit.  The 20th century represented the period where the population flourished, and the development of industry continued to surprise us. Hence, both these prolific changes required for a larger amount of energy.

Solar panels on green grass

Renewable energy sources like wind, water and solar power are unlimited and they can provide energy for the entire planet.

Renewable energy vs fossil fuels

We all know that the most suitable and eco-friendly energy sources would be water, wind and the sun. They constitute infinite sources of energy. However, the downside here is that it all depends on your location. We know that they are very efficient while also being non-polluting. Furthermore, the use of renewable energy can also reduce the worldwide carbon dioxide emissions.

The main objective is to capture and harness the mechanical power of these renewable energy sources to convert it into electricity. Nevertheless, the main challenge is to find a way to effectively capture and store this type of energy to be able to use it when needed. Specialists indicate that the renewable energy sources we have at the moment can easily supply the whole planet’s energy needs forever.

The sun is the ultimate source of energy for our planet. If it weren’t for it, this planet and we would have been long gone. We can use solar panels to store solar energy long after the sun sets. On the other hand hydroelectric and wind power are also extremely useful. Water and wind currents pass right through turbines that are able to convert the energy into electricity.

Windmills from wind farms may, however, harm animals in the area, especially birds. Furthermore, the windfarms installed in the ocean can affect the marine life since the wires under the surface of the water represent a great danger for them.

Summing up

All these sources of energy can clearly help us provide the necessary energy needs to light up the whole planet. However, some of them are more dangerous than others. Despite all the downsides, we keep using renewable energy and fossil fuels to maintain our home heating system, provide fuel for cars and power several industries. Even if we depend on evolution and technology, we still need to remember the importance of the environment and how crucial it is to recycle.

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William E. Eubanks

I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green. My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it.

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