The Human Dependency on Fossil Fuels - A Study

The wealth of our civilization owes much to fossil fuels. Oil has played the major role and we have become acutely dependent upon conventional oil, particularly as far as transportation is concerned. That dependence will have to change in the near future. The world will have to adopt different ways to produce and use energy.

Oil and natural gas provide more than half of the global primary energy consumed. Oil is the most convenient form of energy storage because it has a large volume and mass energy density. Furthermore, it is a liquid that can be transported easily. Oil is essential for modern transportation where it provides about 97% of the fuel used to propel road vehicles, ships, and planes. Due to high - yield technologies, natural gas is more convenient for electricity production and provision of heat and hot water for buildings.

The burning of both these energy sources produces carbon dioxide and contributes to the greenhouse effect with a corresponding impact on global warming. In this respect natural gas is superior to oil because of a larger hydrogen content, but this is mitigated somewhat by releases of methane into the atmosphere associated with leakage during natural gas transport.

Oil and gas exist in finite quantities. They were formed over hundreds of millions of years but are likely to be consumed in only a few centuries. The availability of cheap oil will progressively decline. This will be followed by a similar situation for natural gas. Oil can be produced from nonconventional sources such as oil shale and tar sands as well as from other carbon - containing energy sources, natural gas, coal, and biomass. Nevertheless a significantly higher price must be expected.

So we should develop new and better technologies that could harness the energy from renewable energy resources so that we can progressively decline the use of fossil fuels.