What Are The Pros and Cons of Non Renewable Energy Sources?
From the time the first man discovered how to create heat from fire, we have steadily increased our dependence on non renewable energy sources.
There are many forms of energy used today. Energy may be heat or light, it may be mechanical, chemical or nuclear. Energy powers our manufacturing, moves our goods from one part of the country to another, keeps us warm and cool and allowed us the ease of travel we are accustomed to.
In the 1950's and 1960's we were proud of our energy use. We began to build bigger homes and bigger stores. Shopping malls launched across the country. Huge open space in malls and stores were temperature controlled in every season.
Huge exhaust fans recycled fresh air in the broad walkways and lights burned brightly. Our cars were bigger than ever and travel became common place.
Huge transportation networks formed by railways, huge container trucks and tanker ships brought in all the oil we could possibly need. Refineries were built to transform crude oil into heating oil and into gasoline.
Coal mines provided steady work in the hill of Appalachia to provide fuel for home furnaces and for steel mills.
We could see smog building over some large cities and homeowners were familiar with the black dust spread through heating vents of homes heated with coal. We were familiar with the odor of fuel oil spilled when a home's reserve tank was filled.
In the 1970's, the U.S. was faced with a new reality. The increasing reliance on imported crude oil was highlighted when political problems in a few oil producing nations slowed the importing of oil for a time. For the time in U.S. history, cars lined up for hours trying to buy gasoline to keep them running.
Shipping costs rose drastically as companies that shipped products around the country had to pay more for fuel costs. A few months of gasoline shortages led people to look carefully at our use of non renewable energy.
For a couple years, there were many studies and writings about finding better energy sources. The environmental movement began growing in the U.S. Prior to the 70's environmentalists had focused on protecting wildlife species, safe transports of non renewable energy fuels and the warnings of damage to the earth's atmosphere were ignored by all except a few experts.
The pros and cons of non renewable energy began to be a public concern after those long fuel lines in the 70s.
As fuel shipments resumed, gas was again easy and cheap to buy. People forgot about potential problems and continued to increase their dependence on non renewable energy sources.
Pros of Non Renewable Energy Today
Oil and coal are still being drilled and mined. Huge transport networks deliver the fuels from their source to destinations around the world.
With a new understanding of the limitations of oil, gas and coal, technology has been developed with an eye to using non renewable energy as efficiently as possible.
New heating and air conditioning units for homes use far less energy than the old designs of twenty years ago. Cars are now smaller and continue to improve gas mileage to conserve fuel.
Although it's fashionable today to look toward renewable energy of solar, wind or geothermal potential, we still must rely on fossil fuels to provide most of the energy we use.
Cons of Non Renewable Energy
Burning oil and coal produce greenhouse gases as a byproduct that damages our atmosphere. Once hotly debated, this is now a known fact. Protecting the environment we live in is a driving force for development of renewable energy sources.
Gasoline prices have been volatile in the past ten years. This is in part due to the huge amount of oil needed to fuel cars in the U.S. However, it's also due to the limited capacity of oil refineries.
No new refineries have come online in the past 30 years or so. Environmental agencies, agencies that protect workers and the red tape of strict building codes have increased the cost of building a refinery to the point where cost is prohibitive.
The biggest disadvantage of non renewable energy is the knowledge that fossil fuels are limited in supply. At some point there will be no more oil to pump from wells and the rich veins of coal will be depleted.
For years, it was believed that nuclear energy would replace the use of fossil fuels but the fear of radiation and nuclear meltdowns makes building new nuclear plants unaffordable.
For now the advantage of non renewable energy is balanced by the disadvantages. The goal for the future is to replace the use of fossil fuels with energy sources that can be renewed naturally.