We hear a lot about renewable energy these days. We also hear a lot about fossil fuels.
What are fossil fuels?
Fossil fuels are found in the Earth. They are formed from the remains (fossils) of ancient plants and animals that have been buried deep inside the Earth for millions of years. Over time, heat and pressure have turned these remains into the fossil fuels that we call coal, oil and natural gas.
Today, fossil fuels are mined and then burned to release the energy stored inside them. They are widely used because there is currently supply, and because they are fairly cheap to mine and drill for (mining is an activity that allows the extraction of valuable minerals from the ground).
But how do you extract them?
Oil and gas are generally found deep within the rocks. Geologists (rock experts) create a seismic survey of the area being studied, land or sea. This is basically a detailed map of the rock layers made by using data from sound waves. People then drill wells and pump the oil and gas to the ground in areas that have abundant supply.
Coal is extracted or mined from the ground using giant machines.
Where in the world can we find fossil fuels?
- Oil is found in oil fields. More than half of the world’s oil is found in the Middle East.
- Natural Gas is generally found near oil deposits.
- Coal is the most abundant fossil fuel in the United States. The largest coal reserves are in the United States, Russia, China, Australia, and India.
So what are they used for?
Why is there so much talk about fossil fuels?
Fossil fuels are non-renewable, which means that one day they will be all gone. We can’t make more fossil fuels.
In addition, when they are burned, the carbon stored inside fossil fuels is released into the atmosphere as a gas known as carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and is one of the contributors to global warming.
This is why we need to be more careful about how we use them, and why we need to think about other, renewable sources of energy.
Here are some of the forms of renewable energy that people are working on:
Written by: Sanam Panjwani