Fossil Fuels vs Renewable Energy Essay

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The planet’s temperature is rising rapidly, faster than ever before. As a species, we are running out of time. We need a solution for the crisis we are currently in since the effects of climate change have begun to take their toll. Luckily, we have an alternative fuel that burns cleaner, it’s accessible, and could slow or eventually put a halt to the rising temperature of the planet. It’s name is biodiesel.

Biodiesel can play a big role in helping slow the effects of climate change if we give it the opportunity. We will also eventually run out of fossil fuels. Unlike fossil fuels, biodiesel is renewable. This means that we can produce biodiesel for an unlimited amount of time. Not only do biofuels benefit the consumer and the environment, but they also benefit the United States economy as well. Biofuels could also create thousands of jobs in the near future. Since fossil fuels will eventually be depleted, the main source of fuel will eventually come from a renewable source such as biofuel or solar.

Even though biodiesel does have many benefits, fossil fuels still have many advantages when compared to biofuel. The fossil fuel industry has been established since the 1800’s, and has provided by far the largest source of income in the United States. The United States has been the world’s leading producer and exporter of fossil fuel. The fossil fuel industry has been responsible for 1.9 million jobs and billions of dollars in revenue as well. Fossil fuels have been the U.S. number one source of income, raking in hundreds of billions of dollars a year. It is so profitable, in fact, ExxonMobil is worth $425 billion dollars alone according to their website.

Biofuels have been on the energy scene for many years now, but have only been recognized by many as of recently. Biofuels such as biodiesel are made from feedstock like soybean oil, used cooking oil, and animal fats. Biofuels are all natural, biodegradable, and burn cleaner than standard crude oil based fuels. These fuels have the opportunity to help slow and neutralize the effects humans have brought upon the climate since the industrial revolution of the 1800’s.

Let’s go back about 40 million years to when dinosaurs roamed the earth. During that time period, we have discovered that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was much higher than it is now. When the asteroid impacted the earth and wiped out almost all of the biological life on the surface of the earth, the fossilized remains absorbed the majority of the carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere and were buried underneath many layers of sediment. Humans found a way to drill down deep into the earth’s surface and extract the oil from the fossils and process it to turn it into fuel. This means that the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is approximately 40 million years old. This means that over time, the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will increase to the level it was at 40 million years ago. This level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is unsuitable for humans, and will cause major problems for us in the future such as deforestation, extinction of some species, and rising sea levels. Biodiesel, on the other hand, is a has a closed-carbon cycle. What is a closed-carbon cycle, you might ask? A closed carbon cycle means that all of the carbon dioxide released by your engine is absorbed by the plants in the process of photosynthesis. This means that there is no net increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

A hard fact to face is that eventually, we will run out of fossil fuels. Since biofuels are made from natural resources that can be reproduced, in theory we will never run out of biodiesel to fuel our engines.

Over time, gasoline and diesel from crude oil can corrode a car’s engine. Unlike gasoline or diesel however, biodiesel is a very slippery fuel. This means that when biodiesel flows through your engine, it lubricates and protects the engine’s parts, which in turn extends the life of your engine. It's so slippery that adding ½ of 1% of biodiesel to a tank of standard diesel would improve the lubricity of the fuel ten-fold.

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Since biofuel can be produced domestically, the U.S. government will not have to pay to have oil drilled and exported to the United States. This also means that people won’t be killed over oil. On January 23, 1980, President Jimmy Carter signed The Carter Doctrine. The Carter Doctrine made the protection of oil in the Persian Gulf a matter of national security. In the Persian Gulf sits the Ghawar Oil Field, the largest oil field in the entire world and the United States’ main source of oil. The Ghawar Oil Field is so big, in fact, it holds around ⅔ of the entire world’s oil supply. Carter stated that any attempt to steal oil from the Persian Gulf would be considered an attack on U.S. national security, and would be met with military force.

Even though biofuels offer many economic and environmental benefits, fossil fuels still excel biofuel in availability and reliability. Fossil fuels have been used by humans for over 200 years, and we will not run out anytime soon. In 2018, the total amount of barrels in oil reserves across the entire world was 1.73 trillion. If worldwide energy use remained at the same number it is today, the oil in reserves would last the entirety of the human population approximately 50 years. In the United States alone, the amount of oil in reserves currently sits at around 36.4 billion barrels. Since the amount of oil in the earth’s crust is still relatively abundant and oil reserves can last the entire world population 50 years, we are not in dire need of an energy solution yet.

Biofuels have proven themselves to be much more expensive than fossil fuels by a vast margin, both at the pump and at the plant where it is processed. At the pump, biodiesel costs around $4.13, where standard diesel costs an average of $3.17 depending on what state you’re currently in. The price of standard diesel and gasoline at the pump is much more appealing to consumers than the steep price of biofuel. This makes biodiesel less likely to be accepted by the public than fossil fuel. Since fossil fuels are so cheap and so plentiful, the appeal is much higher when compared to biofuels. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, approximately 147,000 full time jobs related to the production of coal. The fossil fuel industry is a much more stable and established industry which will be in economic favor over biofuels for the time being.

Since biofuels are created by harvesting feedstock such as soybeans or corn, vast quantities of water and crops are used in the production of biodiesel. ‘Green Living’, a website that considers themselves experts in the field of natural solutions and other nature related topics, stated that in 2010 400 million gallons of water were used in the production of biodiesel in the United States alone. As for feedstock, the land required to grow the crops used to produce biodiesel take up many acres of land.

Since fossil fuels are already inside the Earth’s crust, the land required to harvest the oil is much smaller when compared to the land used to harvest biodiesel. According to ‘How Stuff Works’, a website dedicated to explaining countless topics to the general public, they say that if the United States government decided to replace all diesel fuel with biofuel, they would have to dedicate 675 million acres of land to grow feedstock for biofuel production. Those 675 million acres make up around 71% of the farmland in the United States. This means that 71% of the farmland in the entire continental United States would be used exclusively by biofuel companies to grow corn, soybeans, and other types of feedstock used in biofuel production. This could mean that farmers will have to grow and harvest at a much faster rate than normal to keep up with the United States food supply.

Coal is a fuel source that can be converted into many different forms to power many different types of machines and engines. Coal can be converted into gasoline and diesel. It can be transformed into a gaseous state which allows for a drastic reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. The same effect would occur if coal were to be processed and refined into a liquid fuel as well. Standard diesel and gasoline can also be blended with biofuel in an effort to increase fuel lubricity, energy output, and reduce emissions. An effort to make this a reality happened in December of 2007. George W. Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act in 2007 as a way to encourage and increase the production of biofuel with the intent of blending it with gasoline and diesel fuels. It also incentivised car companies to create hybrid style vehicles to encourage people to make the switch to cleaner energy.

While biofuels have shown their benefits opposed to fossil fuel, oil still has many advantages over biofuel including efficiency, reliability, accessibility, and cost at the fuel pump. The fossil fuels industry has been established since the Industrial Revolution of the 1800’s. Coal and oil have been used for centuries to power our homes, factories, and businesses. Since fossil fuel is a more established business than biofuel, it is less likely to face a financial crisis.However, I still believe that biofuels can be a reliable option as an alternative to fossil fuel. In my opinion, the pros of biofuel have many desirable benefits such as lower emissions and higher energy output. With the rising temperature of the planet and the dire circumstances we face as a species, a solution to the rising temperature must be found fast. I think that the adoption of renewable fuels such as biodiesel by the general public can affect mankind for the better in the long haul.

Prior to my research on the topic of biofuel, I believed that biofuels were vastly superior to fossil fuels in many different ways. I believed that in many more ways than one, biodiesel was a superior fuel source as opposed to fossil fuel. After conducting my research, I have discovered that biofuels do indeed have multiple benefits over fossil fuels, but fossil fuels still beat biofuels in many different ways such as reliability, availability, and overall convenience.

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