By Catherine Lewis, Valeria Ortiz, Hai Nguyen, Hannah Moots
What is the Problem?
What are people doing to cause the problem?
Oil is used greater than any other fossil fuels because it makes modern transportation possible. The most common types of oils are gasoline, heating oil, aviation fuels and diesel fuel. Oils are also used in common goods like ink, plastic, dish washing liquids, crayons, eyeglasses, deodorants, tires, ammonia, and heart valves. The oil use is so out of hand in the United States that we now have to import it from Foreign Countries.
Coal is used as fuel in power plants to generate electricity. It accounts for about 40% of US electricity generation. American coal production is currently the second highest in the world, and coal is transported to over 500 power plants among the states.
The development of the steel pipeline and machinery like it allowed natural gas to be easily and safely transported. From 1906 to 1970, demand for natural gas in America grew greatly in the United States. Today the United States is the 2nd Largest Producer of Natural Gases.
How does the problem affect the ecosystem and the biotic factors?
The use of fossil fuels, like coal and natural gases, harms the environment by pollution. When we burn coal, it adds harmful gases to the atmosphere. This decreases the quality of the air and the quality of water when oil and coal are being drilled. The overuse of fossil fuels affects the biotic factors of an ecosystem like its food chains. If the primary consumers don’t have a clean and plentiful resource of water and air then they will eventually die. That would decrease the food source of the secondary and tertiary consumers and would decrease in population also well. (Examples: the air pollution increases the temperature of the atmosphere, some organisms can only live in certain temperatures… some of the sunlight can’t get through and becomes trapped)
How does the problem affect the natural cycles?
Acid rain is precipitation that is formed when wet deposition (rain, snow, fog) and dry deposition (dust, smoke) in the atmosphere contains more acids than normal. The overuse of fossil fuels adds to the pollution in the atmosphere and makes the rain more acidic which then falls onto earth and affects plants and animals by making water and soil more acidic. So when the water is evaporated into the atmosphere and combines with the harmful, acidic particles it turns into acid rain and then precipitation brings it back down. Fossil fuels affect the carbon cycle because the carbon cycle makes fossil fuels over long periods of time. Earth has a finite resource of fossil fuels, so when it is drilled, they take away from that limited supply. This also goes into the nitrogen cycle because when organisms die, they release nitrogen into the soil. So when we drill for fossil fuels, which contain some nitric acid, a form of nitrogen with water, it limits our resource.
What are some other abiotic factors that are impacted by the problem?
Burning fossil fuels contributes to global warming, raising the temperature of the world.
Burning fossil fuels will also pollute the air, reducing the quality of air
The methods of getting fossil fuels can destroy environments. Ex. Destroying rocks to access coal. Water can become covered with spilled oil, making the water unsuited for living. Burning fossil fuels leads to acid rain, and can make the soil more acidic.
What are the long term effects if the problem is not fixed?
The supply of fossil fuels will eventually run out
The sea level will rise due to global warming, and will flood settlements near the sea
Increase of air, water, and land pollution
Smog will settle in cities, and can make people sick.
The weather will become more extreme due to temperature changes.
Animals can become extinct due to pollution destroying their habitats.
What are people doing to correct/raise awareness about the problem?
· to correct:
-switching to non-fossil fuel burning energy sources
-using things like solar energy, wind power, hydroelectric, etc
· to raise awareness
-offering low prices on things like solar panels to encourage use
-some college groups are trying to stop the use of fossil fuels by petitioning to switch to better sources of energy
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