Fossil fuels have served as the primary source of energy for the past century, helping man to achieve a previously unprecedented level of development. This source of energy has been harnessed to power industries and fuel transportation means therefore helping in the growth of the modern civilization.
However, the ability of fossil fuels to continue playing a central role in fulfilling the energy demands of mankind has been called into question due to a number of reasons. The great industrial expansions experienced all over the world and the exponential population growth have put an enormous strain on fossil fuels.
Addition to the concern about the possible exhaustion of fossil fuels, this energy source has been blamed for negative environmental impacts. Because of these concerns, there have been calls for more focus on renewable energy sources, which currently make a minor contribution in the global energy supply.
While the development of renewable energy sources promises to enhance global energy security and mitigate the negative effects of fossil fuels, this alternative has not been received universal approval.
There has been opposition to these means with some people viewing fossil fuels as the only reliable source for satisfying the global energy needs renewable energy as unfeasible. This paper will argue that fossil fuels have no future and the world needs to develop renewable energy sources to satisfy the energy demands of the world.
A Case for Developing Renewable Energy Sources
Fossil fuels are nonrenewable sources of energy, which means that there is a finite amount of fossil fuels on earth and the current fuel reserves will one day end. The world can therefore not afford to depend primarily on a source of energy that cannot be expected to last indefinitely. A report by the oil giant BP reveals that the world’s crude oil reserves are currently at 1,200 billion barrels (Issitt and Warhol 1).
With an annual consumption rate of 30 billion barrels, the current oil reserves will only last for the next 40 years. The revelation that the life span of the fossil fuel reserves on the planet is not that long should push the world to seek alternative energy means. If renewable energy sources are not pursued, the world will face energy crisis once the fossil fuel reserves run out since fossil fuels are the primary energy sources for the world today.
Renewable energy sources can such as solar energy can be relied upon since it will last for as long as the sun shines. The future energy supply for the world will therefore be guaranteed through such a source. The early development of renewable energy sources will also reduce the current strain on fossil fuels. This will enable fossil fuels to last longer even as the world makes the gradual move to alternative sources of energy.
Fossil fuels have an adverse effect on the environment due to the greenhouse gases emitted when these fuels are burnt. The greenhouse gases have resulted in many adverse environmental impacts including global warming and acid rains. The global warming phenomenon has especially caused environmental issues to take a center stage in global affairs. World leaders, policy makers, and scientists have tried to come up with a way to mitigate global warming which is mostly blamed on fossil fuels (Gurmit 34).
Since the world needs energy to sustain its development, the only way to mitigate the negative environmental impacts of fossil fuels is by coming up with an energy source that has reduced or zero negative impacts on the environment. Renewable energy sources present a feasible way to produce energy without the negative environmental impacts attributed to fossil fuels.
Alternative energy source such as wind energy and solar power are clean sources that do not emit any harmful gases to the environment. Solar energy uses the sun to generate clean energy with little or no green house gas emissions. Wind energy uses the wind to turn turbines with zero carbon emissions.
The overreliance on fossil fuels by the world has decreased the energy independence of most Western nations, which do not have their own fossil fuel reserves. The nations have been forced to increase their dependency on oil producing nations, which have immense power because they possess this valuable resource.
For example, the United States relies heavily on imported fuel to satisfy its energy needs. Issitt and Warhol document that 80% of US oil is imported from the oil producing nations (4). This is a very significant amount of oil considering the huge energy demands by industries and citizens in the US. The high dependency on foreign nations to supply a countries energy needs can be risky.
To begin with, such a situation places the oil-producing nation’s great political power. This is best elaborated by the oil embargo placed by the Arab producing nations on the US in 1967. This embargo was placed in reaction to the United States support for Israel during the Arab-Israeli war. The restriction led to a shortage of fuel in the US and a rise in oil prices therefore affecting the economy.
Renewable energy sources would ensure the self-sufficiency of a country since it would be able to produce its own energy in a sustainable manner. Renewable energy sources will also save non-oil producing nations money since their foreign spending will be drastically reduced if they do not have to import fossil fuels.
Renewable energy sources will help preserve the natural environment since energy will be harnessed with little damage to the environment. Fossil fuels have also contributed to the degradation of the natural environment.
As demand for these fuels has increased, oil companies have had to expand their operations to new areas that are natural habitats. The American government is considering engaging in drilling operations in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in order to produce more and cheaper fuel for the American population (Moselle 79).
As the current oil reserves dwindle, nations are expanding their explorations in an unsustainable manner. Renewable energy sources would serve as a more permanent solution to the energy demand problem that the world faces. These sources if well exploited would provide man with an unlimited amount of energy for an indefinite period.
Arguments against Renewable Energy
Opponents of renewable energy sources assert that these alternative means cannot satisfy the immense energy needs of the country. These proponents of fossil fuels contend that while fossil fuel reserves are decreasing, it would be impossible to replace them and a more feasible solution would be to look for more energy efficient ways to make the fossil fuels last longer (Bowman and Marcus 11).
To support these arguments, these opponents of renewable energy observe that alternative energy sources are inefficient and very expensive. This assertion is true since fossil fuels are comparatively cheaper and the most efficient energy form. However, it should be noted that fossil fuels technologies have been developed for decades, which is why they are so efficient. If renewable energy sources are given the time to develop, they will become as efficient (Talal and Steven 2217).
Increase in use will also reduce the cost of renewable energy so that they are eventually at par or even less than fossil fuel prices. Governments and technology companies should therefore invest more in alternative energy source research and development in order to accelerate this.
Renewable energy source development is taking long and this has led opponents to question the feasibility of these alternative energy sources. Western governments including the US have been engaged in research efforts for the past 4 decades with billions of dollars invested in the development of feasible replacements for fossil fuels.
Bowman and Marcus document that in its efforts to promote renewable energy production in the past 4 decades, the US government has lost billions of dollars and continues to loss more as additional money is dedicated to these efforts (1).
Proponents of fossil fuels argue that this money could be better used advancing research in the improvement of efficiency in fossil fuels or exploration of new fossil fuels reserves. While it is true that significant amounts of money have been used in trying to develop feasible renewable energy technologies, the effort has not been in vain.
Renewable technology such as solar power has made great developments and plans for wide scale production of electricity in some regions have already been implemented (Moselle 152). While renewable technology is not yet as matured as fossil fuels, this should not be used as an excuse to abandon an energy source that will ensure sustainability.
This paper set out to argue that fossil fuels have no future in the world and as such, renewable energy sources need to be developed and used in place of fossil fuels. The paper begun by noting that fossil fuels are a finite non-renewable resource predicted to run out soon, and when this happens, the world will face an energy crisis if it does not have an alternative.
The paper then articulated the negative environmental impacts of fossil fuels and the dependency that these fuels create as non-oil producing nations are forced to rely on the oil producers. The paper has admitted that renewable energy technology is still in its development stage and therefore inferior to fossil fuel technologies.
However, considering the significant benefits that renewable energy will bring, additional investments should be made to improve this technology and lead to a wider embrace of these alternative energy sources. By doing this, the energy security of the globe will be ensured and the negative environmental impacts currently caused by fossil fuels mitigated.
Bowman, Jeffrey, and Marcus Griswold. “Counterpoint: Alternative Energy Won’t Solve All the Demands of World Energy Consumption.” Points of View: Alternative Energy Exploration 4.1 (2009): 1-10. Web. 26 Feb. 2013.
Gurmit, Singh. Exploit Nature-Renewable Energy Technologies. New Delhi: Aditya Books Pvt. Ltd., 2009. Print.
Issitt, Micah and Warhol Tom. “Alternative Energy Exploration: An Overview.” Points of View: Alternative Energy Exploration (2009): 1-5. Web. 26 Feb. 2013.
Moselle, Boaz. Harnessing Renewable Energy in Electric Power Systems: Theory, Practice, Policy. New York: Earthscan, 2010. Print.
Talal, Yusaf and Steven Goh. “Potential of renewable energy alternatives in Australia”. Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews 15.5 (2011): 2214-2221. Web. 26 Feb. 2013.