Aveneu Park, Starling, Australia

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Fossil fuels are topics that are discussed globally. They are non-renewable sources of energy that can be used to generate electricity, provide heat, or be used as fuel for transportation (National Geographic). Additionally, fossil fuels are not only used in developed countries similar to Canada or America. They are used in all around the globe; Almost 81% of world’s total energy consumption comes from fossil fuels (The World Bank Group, N.D). However, these old energy sources have many effects on the plant and humans. Burning and extracting fossil fuels produces greenhouse gases which can be detrimental to the environment (Union of Concerned Scientists, 2016). And although it is widely known that the human race and the environment are harmed and damaged by fossil fuels greatly, humanity might be able to reduce these problems, combat greenhouse gas emissions and help cease climate change by moving towards green energies. Fossil fuels have numerous negative impacts that affect our environment. From Oil leaks and habitat loss to change in the global climate there are devastating effects that can be seen on both local and global scales. To begin with, one local impact can be water or land pollution. During the extraction and transportation of fossil fuels, the issue of a broken pipe or storage tank is not unlikely. A small leakage during transportation can directly damage the environment (Ram, 2009). It can result in contamination of water or soil which can affect the local organisms. Furthermore, the extraction of these fossil fuels requires significant infrastructure such as storage tanks, wells for oil and gas and roads for removal of the fuel from the earth. In view of the fact that much fossil fuel extraction takes place in rural or wild areas, building such development will have significant effects on the local environment and wildlife (Ram, 2009). And even after many years, abundant coal mines, if not properly managed, can cause water that occasionally flows through to become highly acidic and rich in heavy metals. This resulting drainage water is detrimental to local human, plant, and animal life (Union of Concerned Scientists, 2016). However, these are not the only negative impacts of fossil fuels. These lethal outcomes will not only be experienced locally but they will also affect environments and wildlife on a global scale. Possibly the most talked about issue affecting the environment, that is caused by these fuels, is climate change. Most climate scientists agree the main cause of the current global warming trend is human expansion of the greenhouse effect — warming that results when the atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space (NASA, N.D). Human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels by coal-burning power plants, factories, and automobiles are introducing more and more greenhouse gases to Earth’s atmosphere (NASA, N.D). These gases, which include but are not limited to Carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, block the sun’s heat reflecting back from earth’s surface from escaping through the atmosphere to keep earth warm (NASA, N.D). This results in the rise of global temperatures and causes glaciers to melt, thus raising the sea levels, which may destroys wildlife habitats (NASA, N.D). Melted glaciers can mean habitat loss for the arctic animals, especially the polar bear (World Wildlife Fund, N.D). In addition, climate change can change the water cycle as well by evaporating more water, and increasing precipitation. This causes individual reigns to become dryer or wetter (NASA, N.D).However, the impacts of fossil fuels are not only environmental; they also have social and economical effects. It was noted that use of fossil fuels lead to climate change and ecological impacts of it were discussed, but it should be known that the economy can also suffer from this global issue. A NRT report concludes that climate change impacts brought about by increased world-wide emissions have a real and growing economic cost to Canada (NRT, 2011). It is predicted that by 2020 the economic impact on canada could reach 5 billion dollars per year and by 2050, from 21 to 43 billion dollars per year (NRT, 2011). These costs are caused because of many factors. To begin with, the timber supply will be greatly impacted, from 2 billion to 17 billion dollars per year (NTR, 2011). Forests are extremely sensitive to changes in weather and climate; which means that with climate change, forest fire activity is expected to increase, affecting timber supplies and leading to higher fire management and control costs (NRT, 2011). Furthermore, flooding damages to coastal reigns, resulting from climate change-induced sea-level rise and storm surges, could cost between 1 billion to 8 billion dollars per year (NTR, 2011). In a changing climate, the combined effects of sea-level rise and a greater frequency and intensity of storm surges could lead to permanent loss of land, temporary flooding, freshwater salination, damage to property, and disruption of key economic activities, among other impacts (NRT, 2011). Poorer air quality, resulting from higher temperatures, will also lead to more hospital visits, hence resulting in millions of dollars in costs to local health care systems (NRT, 2011). Equally important is the fact that fossil fuels have to compete against renewable energies and the competition is becoming harder and more competitive each year (Garvin, 2013). And with the introduction of carbon taxes, many are realizing that fossil fuels might not help canada’s economy anymore (Garvin, 2013). However, there are also a great deal of social impacts. Many people from different cultures and beliefs will be affected due to fossil fuel industry. From a social standpoint, the use of fossil fuels is increasing risks of lung cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease, skin cancer and kidney disease in adults (Peter, N.D). Moreover, some governments have been favouring mining companies over the local communities regarding the availability of water (Peter, N.D). There is also social divide within communities due to economic and environmental influences created by mining (Peter, N.D). By 2050, more than a billion people in the Asian region are expected to be affected from freshwater shortages due to climate change (Climate Action Network, 2016). Additionally, a great portion of the population, between 75 million and 250 million in the African regions, are projected to be exposed to increased water stress (Climate Action Network, 2016). All these impacts are threatening the economy, negatively affecting global health and influencing populations from a social perspective. Fossil fuels are harmful, disadvantageous and have many destructive impacts on the environment, economy and society; fortunately, there are many solutions for such impacts. First solution would be to increase and expand the use of renewable energy and transform our energy industry to be cleaner and less dependent on fossil fuels and non-renewable energies. Renewable energy replenishes faster than the rate at which it is consumed and it does not have a limited supply (Government of Canada, 2017); it has a clear advantage over fossil fuels. Additionally, it is a practical, affordable solution to global electricity needs and by expanding on renewable energy, we can reduce air pollution, cut global warming emissions, create new jobs and decrease dependence on non-renewable fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas (Union of Concerned Scientists, N.D). We have the technologies and resources to reliably produce at least 40 percent of our electricity from renewable energy sources within the next 20 years, and 80 percent by 2050 (Union of Concerned Scientists, N.D). There are many different types of green energy such as wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, and hydroelectricity (Government of Canada, 2017). All of which use a renewable resource to create power and electricity, such as water, sun, wind and heat beneath earth’s surface (Government of Canada, 2017). Green energy is growing rapidly, with two-thirds of Canada’s electricity supply now comeing from renewable sources such as hydro and wind power (Mia, 2017). The portion of all electricity in Canada generated by renewables is now 66 percent (Mia, 2017). We can readily continue this rapid expansion of renewable energy by utilizing existing technologies, investing in improvements to our electricity system, and making smart policy decisions that moves humanity toward a clean energy future (Union of Concerned Scientists, N.D). Green, clean, renewable energies are probably the best and most efficient long term solution to this serious problem. To conclude, Fossil fuel consumption is a important issue that has many outcomes and consequences.  It is a global problem that affects not only canada but the whole world, developing and developed countries alike,  in many ways. It has many environmental, economic and social impacts which affect industries and individuals all together. In addition, it threatens our wildlife, plants, trees and ecosystems; and billions of dollars are lost because of it as well. And although, Canada has contributed to the global GHG emissions, it has also made a big progress towards solving the issue along with many other countries. It has introduced renewable energies and continues to use new technology to expand this industry to transform our energy industry to a cleaner, greener future. However, governments still have to work on solutions and technologies to shut down the fossil fuel industry completely and become independent of these non-renewable resources. Because fossil fuels are destroying our environments, damaging our economy, and hurting the world socially. And the solution is to move towards green energy and fulfill the need for them – to improve the future and save the plant.

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