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Fossil Fuels: Our Society’s Dependency Essay, Research Paper

Fossil Fuels: Our Society’s Dependency

Natural Resources Report

by Sean Falconer

Chemistry 122

Mr. Hart 1997-02-07

Our society has become dependent on fossil fuels for energy. That seems

fine for now considering the fact that everyone is generally happy in the

present situation. Fossil fuels are relatively inexpensive and seem to be doing

the trick right now. Using fossil fuels arise such issues as global warming,

rising costs of scarce resources, and shortages of raw materials. None of these

problems will draw full attention until the demand is needed, it’s the old

supply and demand scenario. Although my opinion may seem pessimistic if you

look at past events it points to the supply and demand scenario.

During World War II rubber supplies were cut off to the western world

and we began to work on a compound that was a synthetic rubber. We succeeded in

supplying the demand and now that same synthetic compound is used today. My

theory is that the same thing will happen with such things as plastic, which is

made from fossil fuels. Someone will either come up with a synthetic plastic or

come up with something to substitute for plastic. The person who comes up with

the solution will become and instant millionaire and everyone will be happy.

There is one draw back of this way of solving problems, I mean sure it’s great

to wait until the demand but we should still learn from our mistakes. We should

learn to plan ahead and see what the consequences could possibly be.

We still have other demands to meet, there are three major demands of

fossil fuels and they are heating, transportation, and industry. Although

transportation is taken care of, we may not like the thought of a solar car or

an electric car but there are solutions out there. Frankly the oil companies

don’t want to lose their monopoly in the transportation industry and that brings

us into the whole economy issue. If we run out of fossil fuels what will happen

to the economy? Will it suffer? These are just a few questions that are asked

everyday, but for now we are just going to look at solutions for demands on

fossil fuels. This chart below illustrates the demands and the possible


Energy Demand Alternative Energy Sources and Practices

heating – solar heating, heat pumps, geothermal energy,

biomass gas, and electrical from hydro and

nuclear plants

transportation – alcohol/gasohol and hydrogen fuels, and

electric vehicles

– mass transit, bicycles, and walking

– solar energy, nuclear energy, and


– improved efficiency and waste heat recovery

In conclusion I don’t think the need for a substitute for fossil fuels will

be fully met until the demand arises. A substitute maybe found before the need,

but as history demonstrates the use of it will either be delayed or will not

occur. As for the economy jobs will be lost, but jobs will also be created in

new areas. The big oil companies will lose big and so may some small countries

like Kuwait. No one can really predict how the economy will turn out but if the

substitute or substitutes are less dangerous to the environment and not as hard

on natural resources our economy will eventually get over the lose of their

precious oil.

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