Updated: Aug 28, 2020
By Derek Johnson
On hearing the word “sustainability”, the first thing on most people’s mind is the environment. Not until recently, that was the first thing on my mind too. Well, I have found the light, and I’d like to show you. Sustainability is more than just the environment, it involves the ability to maintain the world’s quality of life at a particular level.
In other words, sustainability involves the ability to use necessary natural resources, without compromising the availability of these resources for the future generation. And to achieve this, three components must be active; environmental conservation, social responsibility, and economic development.
With factors such as climate change, poor environmental conditions, and green emissions making the rounds in different news reports, the need for sustainability growth is fast becoming increasingly significant. Although some areas of the world suffer the same sustainability issues, there are different sustainability issues in different areas of the world. This article focuses on the impact and mitigation of fossil fuel in my part of the world.
Fossil fuels form as a result of the deposits of dead plants and animals buried in layers of sedimentary rocks and acted upon by microorganisms for millions of years. Because of the action of microorganisms, these dead plants and animals decompose into what we know as fossil fuels. These fuels are non-renewable, albeit carbon-rich, include coal, oil, and Natural gas.
Fossil fuels provide over eighty percent of the world’s energy, from domestic to industrial needs, fossil fuels are a big part of the world as we know it today. To produce energy, fossil fuel needs to burn. The burning of which produces greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, which are the main inducers of global warming and climate change.
The need for sustainability comes with the need to replace fossil fuels as our main source of energy. Although a few alternatives have been developed, none of these alternatives can fully replace fossil fuels. However, in most parts of the world, technologies like solar panels, electric cars, and so on, serve as sustainable alternatives. But in underdeveloped parts of the world, like my part, we eat and dine with greenhouse emissions.
Many of us indulge in the services of power generators that burn fossil fuels, because of the lack of constant power supply in this part of the world. In this case, it is fair to say that my part of the world is a big donor to global warming.
Major Types Of Fossil Fuels
There are many groups and subgroups of fossil fuels, some of which include;
Coal is a black or dark brown rock-like fossil fuel. The use of coal as a source of energy is a result of the amount of heat it produces when burnt. And as such, coal contributes about one-third of the world’s energy. With China, India, and the United States leading the “coal consumers and producers tree” as of 2018. Coal is subdivided into;
From the world’s carbon dioxide emission chat, 44% of emissions are attributed to coal burning. Hence the decline in the use of coal in countries like the US. However, coal-burning is common in my part of the world. With coal serving quite a number of domestic needs, such as cooking and Ironing.
Crude Oil, the liquid phase of fossil fuel. It consists of mainly carbon and hydrogen, however, it can contain other elements like Sulfur and Nitrogen, albeit in small quantity. Crude oil is the most popular fossil fuel, seeing as its uses cover a wide range of human life. From transportation, electricity, to even feeding. The refined crude oil produces many useful products, like gasoline (PMS), diesel (AGO), and lubricating oil.
Crude oil contributes about 35% of the world’s carbon emissions. Additionally, air pollution from oil combustion as well as drilling and transportation of crude oil and its products have proven disastrous in the past. The most recent, in my part of the world, a tanker explosion, and a pipeline explosion.
Resolving Sustainability Issues: Fossil Fuels
All over the world, much effort and funds are directed towards mitigating the emissions from fossil fuels, in a bid, to curb the effect of global warming and climate change. A most popular example, at the international level, is the 2015 Paris agreement. Generally, these efforts aim to increase energy efficiency, by replacing fossil fuels with renewable alternatives.
As much as you’ll like to think that the onus is on the world’s government to ensure sustainability. We as individuals can also do our bit. To resolve this sustainability issue in my part of the world, I will take it upon myself to educate the environment on fossil fuel burning and how harmful it is to the environment.
You can come up with even better ideas to resolve your environment’s sustainability issue. What will you do to ensure sustainability in your part of the world?