What’s the Big Deal About Fossil Fuels?

What are fossil fuels?


Fossil Fuels are fuels such as oil shales, kerosene, petroleum, coal, tar sands, bitumens, natural gas, and heavy oils. The most common fossil fuels being oil, coal and natural gas.

The world’s most commonly used source of energy today happens to be fossil fuels.

But did you know that technically fossil fuels are a renewable source of energy? However, due to the fact that they take millions of years to form and are being burned up faster than they can replenish, they are considered non-renewable. Once they are depleted, it will take another million years to form more, and by that time, none of us will be around to enjoy using them as sources of energy.

It just so happens, these fuels are responsible for helping the world become industrialized.

How are Fossil Fuels Formed?

Fossil fuels are created by storing energy from the sun into fossils through the process of photosynthesis from when those plants were living. Photosynthesis is the process in which plants create their own food source using energy from the sun and the green pigment, chlorophyll. These fuels are sometimes known as mineral fuels.

Basically. Fossil fuels are fuels formed by natural processes.

It is theorized that fossil fuels originated over a long time ago through phytoplankton and zooplankton (early plants) and animals that died and hardened into layers of sediment in the earth. Heat and pressure then created chemical reactions that embedded the photosynthetic energy into the rocks. This energy is basically geological organic material that combusts.

It is kinda neat if you think about it, ferns, plants and trees help made coal. Decayed plants that have not yet become coal is called peat. Zooplankton and algae help made oil. Natural gas is formed the same way oil is made, but it is further along the decomposition process.

Fossil fuels are then collected and refined through various methods. One such method of collecting fossil fuels naturally is called mining. After the fuels are collected, the fuels and the byproducts of those fuels are used at various points of processing.

Some fuels can be used immediately, like coal for instance. Other fuels are processed by various methods to produce other forms of the fossil fuels. For example, petroleum is collected and refined to produce gasoline, diesel fuel, and jet fuel.

Some fossil fuels like natural gas, add a stinky additive to it. The reason for this is that natural gas doesn’t naturally have a smell to it. The additive is added to aid those working with it, and consumers, in detecting its presence. This is especially useful when checking for leaks.

And finally, some fuels are burned, and in burning the fuels, it creates gas and heat. This is then turned into mechanical energy. The mechanical energy turns a turbine which is then converted into electricity.

When Did Fossil Fuels First Enter the Scene?

Fossil fuels have been used for centuries. Ancient cultures have used fossil fuels long before we commercialized it. Because of this, fossil fuel use can not be pinpointed to a specific date as to when we began using them.

Cavemen used peat and coal for warmth. It is believed that ancient 1st century Greeks used natural gas energy as a fire source when natural gas escaped from the earth and was hit by lightening. Alexander the Great used petroleum in war as a weapon. Egyptians used asphalt, which comes from petroleum, to mummify their dead. In the 1300s, America’s Hopi Indians used coal for cooking and heating purposes. The original Virginian settlers used coal.

However, The Industrial Revolution really brought fossil fuel use to the forefront where it became commercialized. During this time, people saw fossil fuels as the ideal energy to use because it seemed like there was a ton of it to go around.

What are some Advantages of Fossil Fuel Use?

Fossil fuels are still one of the cheapest forms of energy and provide a significant boom to the economy. And now, they have better technology to extract fossil fuels more efficiently. Fossil fuels are also one of the safest energy sources to transport.

Another advantage of fossil fuels is the fact that they are highly stable due to the hydrogen and carbon content. And to boot, they are a great reliable source of energy as bringing fossil fuels to the surface to use doesn’t depend on whether the sun is shining or if it is windy enough out. The fossil fuels are just simply extracted from the earth.

Some other advantageous points to remember are the fact that fossil fuel plants are more economical and easier to build than the plants needed for alternate forms of energy.

Fossil fuels also make all sorts of products. Petroleum alone is responsible for creating over 6,000 products through the use of its byproducts created from burning the petroleum. Petrol, a derivative of petroleum, is responsible for fueling up at least 80% of the world’s transportation like cars, trains, ships, and airplanes.

There are so many products used in the world today that use fossil fuels, including but not limited to: electricity, transport fuel, plastics, synthetic fibers, medicines, detergents, cosmetics, and paints.

And an interesting point also, without fossil fuels the discovery of renewable energy sources would have never happened.

What are Some Disadvantages of Fossil Fuel Use?

A major disadvantage to burning fossil fuels is the pollution they create. Pollution is bad for the environment and the ozone. Not only does it create bad ozone, but it works against the building of good ozone, which to me sounds an awful lot like we’re burning both ends of the stick, so to speak.

The fact is, they are the world’s largest source of carbon dioxide, which is the leading gas in our atmosphere that worsens the greenhouse effect. And as these gas emissions contribute towards the greenhouse effect, they compound, exacerbate and trigger the slide towards global warming.

Fossil fuels create other pollution besides carbon dioxide, such as sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. However, when these pollutants mix and react with water molecules in the atmosphere, they create acid rain. Acid rain has been proven to negatively affect animals, plants and building infrastructure.

Lastly, fossil fuel plants may be cheap to make, but they are not an efficient source of energy. However, at this point, since fossil fuels continue to be our main source of energy in the world, many manufacturers have been trying to create products that are more green and use less fossil fuels than they traditionally have.

What Products are the Most Green Products Produced that Utilize Fossil Fuel Energy?

Energy Star products. They use less fossil fuels than their counterparts. They do this through a variety of methods. For example, energy star products try to reduce the”vampire load” of appliances.

“Vampire loads” is the amount of energy “sucked” from your appliances when they are plugged in but turned off. Vampire loads typically use about 10% of our homes total energy usage, so decreasing this would help both our energy consumption and our finances. A solution to this problem would be a product called an advanced power strip (APS).

Other Energy Star saving tools in the appliances of today include smart switches, low flow faucet and shower heads, low flow toilets, energy efficient light bulbs, and a variety of different features that help in decreasing the amount of fossil fuel energy being consumed.

Here is a list of some product reviews to help you compare and contrast different version.

In Conclusion

When living green, it is important to consider many energy source options, as every energy source, with the exception of nuclear fusion, has some level of toxic pollution waste in some way or another. Every energy source, with the exception of nuclear fusion, uses at least some fossil fuels in the production process that enables us to harness other energy sources.

There is no way to get around the use of fossil fuels at this time, however, we can make great strides to reduce the use of these fossil fuels and thereby reduce the amount of environment killing CO2 greenhouse emissions.

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  • Nelisiwe

    Wow there’s so much I’ve learned from this article. I wish the world would find a solution to this pollution, it may not be serious now but we have to think about the future generations who’ll be living on the same planet that we’re busy damaging.

  • Kit

    i think the fossil fuel is still the number one power source in the world today. The renewable energy still can compete the power output of a fossil fuel. Even Tesla cars have not taken over the world. They say that it will deplete but I don’t think it is anywhere near as of now.

    • Blakey


      You are right, fossil fuels -are- the number one go-to energy source in our world today… But, hopefully, as we become better at harnessing hydrogen power (through nuclear fusion), you may just see more and more Tesla cars!! 🙂  I sure hope so… 

  • Paul

    Hi Blakey,

    This article was a real eye opener for me and although I recognised many of the terms and expressions I honestly disn’t a real lot about it. It’s mind boggling to think there is so much fossil fuel to be running the billions of cars that are on the worlds roads today without it not having run out.

    I know there is no short term solution and with the greed and manipulation of those running the show it will run out without a logical solution ever being found until it’s too late.Our destruction of the planet is suicidal and one can only hope for some type of change in peoples thinking

    Great work promoting a green planet. I take my hat off to you mate


  • Renton

    Great post on fossil fuels! I have never really been able to see them from this perspective as most people only focus on the negative aspects namely the contribution of fossil fuel usage to accelerated unnatural global warming. I think it is amazing what nature produces.

    The problem with global warming is that as humans we tend to over do things. We have essentially accelerated a natural process which may render our habitat hostile to life. The saddest part is that we probably only care or notice because it will directly affect us (never mind the billions of other creatures we share the Earth with!)

    • Blakey

      Renton, I completely agree!  …and if people see that there are other, even better options, hopefully becoming aware that those options exist will at least help them in taking steps towards living a greener life…  because every step in the right direction counts! Thanks for your comment! 

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