Thursday, September 19, 2019

Mans Discovery Of Fossil Fuels Could Be His Downfall. Discus Essay

Throughout the entire history of mankind, the technological advancements that civilisations have made have always been tied in with the development of energy sources. The first human energy technology was fire, along with human labour as the major energy source. This has bee supplemented by animals for agriculture and transportation since at least the dawn of agriculture some 10,000 years ago. Wind and waterpower for milling grain have also been used nearly as long. The development of the steam engine by George Stephenson in the late 1700’s was the technological breakthrough that led to the industrial revolution. For the first time in human history transportation could be provided without the use of domesticated animals. Steam engines were used in steam locomotives, steam tractors and steam ships (B.Nebel and R.Wright 1995). Stationary steam engines were rapidly established in all the major industries. The major fuel for steam engines was firewood. By the end of the 1800’s, the demand for energy was ever increasing and firewood around industrial centres was becoming scarce. This led to a switch to coal as the major source for fuel and energy. As well as powering steam engines coal became widely used for heating, cooking and industrial processes. Air pollution during the Industrial revolution was far worse than anything seen today. Apart from the smoke and fumes obscuring visibility, they also caused major health problems to the inhabitants of the industrial areas reducing life expectancies, predominantly with respiratory diseases. The simultaneous development of the internal combustion engine, well drilling technology and the capacity to refine crude oil into gasoline and other liquid fuels (B. Nebel et al 1995) in the late 1880’s, produced an alternative to steam power. Air pollution was greatly reduced as coal-fired steam engines and gasoline and diesel engines, and fuel oil furnaces replaced furnaces. Due to the length of time it takes to change from one energy technology to another, it was not until the late 1940’s that oil surpassed coal as the worlds major energy source. World oil use peaked in 1979 when daily production passed 66 million barrels per day (W.Cunningham et al 1993). This was not without problems however. In 1973, the recognition of the increasing dependence of industrialised nations on oil along ... ...nder normal conditions. Extraction of fossil fuels is a dirty and dangerous business, with associated diseases of workers and environmental pollution, such as dust from mining and spills from tankers transporting oil. As can be seen from the various points discussed, the civilisation that we inhabit today is very much dependent on fossil fuels, without them the level of technology that we take for granted today would not exist. The economical, political, social and environmental issued associated with them show the problems of mans dependence on them. With increasing worldwide demand, and declining supplies, every effort needs to be made by governments to find solutions to these problems. This has already started today, with developments in alternative energy sources such as nuclear power, which raises its own issues, and the move towards solar and other renewable energy sources. References Cunningham. W.P and Saigo B.W (1995). Environmental Science: A Global Concern. W.C.B, Bubuque. Nebel B.J and Wright R.T (1993). Environmental Science. Prentice Hall, New Jersey. Pickering K.T and Owen L.A (1995). An Introduction to Global Environmental Issues. Routledge, London and New York.

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