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United States use of fossil fuel - Research Paper Example

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The United States is considered amongst the largest consumers of fossil fuels, consuming 7.1 billion barrels/year of oil, 23.2 cubic feet/year of natural gas and 1.04 billion short tons/year of coal (Whitney, 2010, pg 20). …
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United States use of fossil fuel
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Download file to see previous pages The United States is considered amongst the largest consumers of fossil fuels, consuming 7.1 billion barrels/year of oil, 23.2 cubic feet/year of natural gas and 1.04 billion short tons/year of coal (Whitney, 2010, pg 20). The countries dependence on fossil fuel has increased over the years; with its total fossil fuel consumption increasing 20 fold in the last 4 decades.The high dependence of fossil fuels is clearly noticeable in the fossil fuel per capita consumption; that is the country consumes 20 to 30 times more fossil fuel per capita than developing nations. This high dependence on fossil fuels results in economic and environmental damage of the country. It is therefore needed that the United States adopt a reusable source of fuel that would lessen the strain on the environment and its economy. It is a well known fact that burning and consumption of fossil fuels results in release of harmful environment damaging substances. Fossil fuels mainly consist of petroleum, natural gas and coal. All three of which contribute to global warming by releasing greenhouse gases when combusted. These greenhouse gases further then contribute towards the global warming effect. Global warming is predicted to lead to other environmental disasters such as the sea level rising and major climate changes. Ultimately, the phenomenon is expected to lead the world into an ice age. The United States has established itself as one of the largest contributors towards making this phenomenon a reality. The United States expelled 6633.2 million metric tons of Carbon dioxide, which is the primary ingredient of global warming (US Environment Protection Agency, 2011, p. 2-5). The country’s economy is heavily based and dependent on fossil fuels. Though the country has its own fossil fuel reserves, it still to meet its large fuel requirements, imports fossil fuel from fossil fuel rich countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iraq becomes a necessity. This import of oil and its derivatives pushes pressure on the economy. The high consumption of fossil fuels also poses indirect financial expenditures. Sea level rise and increase in destructive power of storms due to global warming, has put coastal cities such as New York, New Orleans and Miami in greater risk. It is estimated that damages could amount to $422 billion in the Atlantic and Gulf States between 2025 and 2100 (Environment America, 2009, p. 17). In a bid to avoid this catastrophic situation both environmentally and economically, it is essential that the United States slowly shifts its economy towards greener energy resources. The country already has installed several power plants that utilize renewable energy resources. As of 2010, renewable energy accounted for 11.4 percent of the electricity produced within the United States. The major sources of renewable fuel within the country are hydro, solar, wind, geothermal (Blackburn, 1987, p. 44). Most of these energy sources have already been developed within the country. Hydroelectric power contributes 66.8 percent of the total renewable energy and has iconic projects such as the Hoover dam and Grand Coulee dam under its belt. Solar energy plants installed within the Mojave Desert are capable of generating up to 354MW of power. The Solar Energy Generating Systems (SEGS) consists of nine solar power plants that were commissioned between 1984 and 1991. There are more solar plants being constructed in order to increase the amount of coverage by renewable sources; of which two are the Blythe Solar Power Project and Ivanpah Solar Power Facility. Wind power is a growing source of energy within the United States. The power generated by wind farm’s currently amounts to more than 35,159MW. These farms are mostly located within ranches of Texas. The idea of wind farms for renewable source of energy is gaining popularity and wind power is expected to cover 20% of US electricity by 2030. Geothermal source of energy is the fourth largest source of renewable energy. Geothermal plants are mostly locat ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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