May 8, 2015 at 9:57 am #2533
Non-renewable Energy Sources. Energy generation is an ongoing topic in the United States and worldwide. Historically, the nation’s main energy source is fossil fuels. However, nuclear power has also contributed throughout history. These energy sources are considered non-renewable resources because their inputs are limited in both quantity and availability. Select either fossil fuel energy or nuclear power as the main topic for this paper. Discuss the impact that the selected source has had on the environment. Additionally, select one environmental disaster that has occurred because of your selected fuel source and describe the disaster in detail. (a) What, specifically, occurred? (b)What were the ecological and human health effects? (c) How was the disaster handled? (d) And, what did we learn from it? If applicable, discuss what environmental policies were established because of the selected disaster.
February 23, 2018 at 8:39 pm #12708
FOSSIL FUEL ENERGY
This is energy generated from fuels such as coal, petroleum, natural gas, bitumen and shale oil. It can be in form of heat or electrical energy. These fuels constitute carbon, hydrogen, sulphur and nitrogen compounds; coal has trace amounts of nearly every element, including toxic metals like beryllium, arsenic, cadmium, selenium, and lead.
IMPACT THAT FOSSIL FUEL HAS HAD ON THE ENVIRONMENT
1.Burning fossil fuels has contributed to release of carbon dioxide, thus increasing the amounts that are already in the environment. This has resulted to the greenhouse effect which is gradually raising the temperature of the earth.
2.The combination of sulphur and oxygen during the combustion of the fuels has resulted into sulphur dioxide which when washed off by rainwater becomes a primary cause of acid rain. Consequently, acid rain has resulted into destruction of aquatic life (both animals and plants), corrosion of surfaces, and damage to plant life (withering and falling of plants) as well as human health (can cause cancers).
3.The combustion process has resulted to formation of carbon monoxide which when inhaled it combines more easily with haemoglobin than oxygen. This then has reduced the amount of oxygen in the blood of some individuals thus severely affecting the functioning of the body or sometimes it is fatal.
4.Formation of sulphur dioxide has resulted to many respiratory disorders such as bronchitis, coughs, asthma and colds.
5.Unburned carbon becomes particulate and floats in the atmosphere; when inhaled it damages the respiratory tract thus causing acute or chronic respiratory illnesses.
6.Combustion of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen can result to hydrocarbons which are responsible for formation of ozone which in turn irritates the eyes and the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract. It affects lung function, reduces ability to exercise, causes chest pains, coughing, and pulmonary congestion, and damages the immune system.
7.Resulting from combustion of fossil fuels are volatile organic compounds such as polycyclic aromatic which are notorious in causation of cancer.
8.Toxic metals have a variety of harmful effects. Cadmium, arsenic, nickel, chromium, and beryllium can cause cancer, and each of these has additional harmful effects of its own. Lead causes neurological disorders such as seizures, mental retardation, and behavioral disorders, and it also contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease. Selenium and tellurium affect the respiratory system, causing death at higher concentrations.
ONE ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER THAT HAS OCCURRED BECAUSE OF FOSSIL FUEL ENERGY
When coal was used to produce heat for warming flats and for cooking in greater municipal agglomerations, disadvantageous influences on the environment from its combustion were observed. Americans may think smog was invented in Los Angeles. Not so. In fact, and Londoner coined the term “smog” in 1905 to describe the city’s insidious combination of natural fog and coal smoke. Smog in London predates Shakespeare by four centuries. Until the twelfth century, most Londoners burned wood for fuel. But as the city grew and the forests shrank, wood became scarce and increasingly expensive. Large deposits of “sea-coal” off the northeast coast provided a cheap alternative. Soon, Londoners were burning the soft, bituminous coal to heat their homes and fuel their factories.Sea-coal was plentiful but it didn’t burn efficiently and much of its energy was spent making smoke, not heat. Coal smoke drifting through thousands of London chimneys combined with clean natural fog to make smog. If the weather conditions were right, it would last for days. Early on, nobody had the scientific tools to connect smog with adverse health effects, but complaints about the smoky air as an annoyance date back to at least 1272, when King Edward I, on the urging of important noblemen and clerics, banned the burning of sea-coal. Anyone caught mining or selling the stuff was to be tortured or executed. The first offender caught was summarily put to death. This deterred nobody. Out of necessity, citizens continued to burn sea-coal in violation of the law, which required the burning of wood few could afford. Sadly, the problem of wood shortages exists today.
The one important renewable resource, fuel wood, which supplies 20 or even 30 percent of energy in some rural economies, is running out and there is a world shortage. It is ironic that the first fuel resource to run into really short supply is a “renewable” one.