General Question

mattbrowne's avatar

It took nature about 1 million years to create the amount of fossil fuels today's world consumes every year. How do you feel about that?

Asked by mattbrowne (31724points) April 15th, 2009

From Wikipedia: Fossil fuels or mineral fuels are fossil source fuels, that is, carbon or hydrocarbons found in the earth’s crust. It was estimated by the Energy Information Administration that in 2006 primary sources of energy consisted of petroleum 36.8%, coal 26.6%, natural gas 22.9%, amounting to an 86% share for fossil fuels in primary energy production in the world. Non-fossil sources included hydroelectric 6.3%, nuclear 6.0%, and (geothermal, solar, wind, wood waste) amounting 0.9 percent. World energy consumption was growing about 2.3% per year.

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23 Answers

qualitycontrol's avatar

I’ll be dead before we run out so I’m fine with it…

El_Cadejo's avatar

Horrible :(

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

@qualitycontrol but if something isn’t done soon you won’t be fine with paying 10 dollars a gallon and sitting through 90 degree heat in january(if you live in north america).

to me it’s alarming how long it’s taken humanity to get their heads out of their respective asses, so to speak, when it comes to alternative and greener energy sources.

nikipedia's avatar

I feel like the fossils aren’t using it anymore, and it’s pulling second and third world countries out of poverty and into industrialization, so I’m on board. I would prefer it if countries with the financing, entrepreneurialism, and infrastructure (i.e., us) would work harder on making cheap and efficient solar energy.

@qualitycontrol: Probably not. Unless we find some jackpot of fossil fuels, we will run out in our generation (or they will become so rare and therefore so expensive that no ordinary person can afford them).

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

I mean, the technology for hyrdogen fuel cells has been around since the 50s-60s but nothing was done with them until the mid 90s. if the oil companies that bought up most hydrogen patents weren’t so terrified of their stock dropping a little for the sake of humanity it’s reasonable to think we’d all already be driving vehicles run souly on renewable energy.

kritz_the_cat's avatar


If you live in Arizona or South Texas, you have 90 degree heat in January already.
Where I live it was -40 for a week straight and I live in North America. Every year I hear about how warm our winter will be, and every year it gets colder.
So I can’t wait for that to be spun as a bi-product of Global warming as well.

And Quality Control is right. There is enough oil left for our generation.
Alberta, Brazil, The Middle East, the Gulf Of Mexico.
Untapped reserves abound, so don’t worry your pretty little head about it.

The next generation? Well, that’s another story.
IS there oil on the moon?

_bob's avatar

Thank God for dinosaurs.

mattbrowne's avatar

@kritz_the_cat – There’s lots of helium-3 on the moon. Far more powerful than oil, if we learn how to bring it back to Earth and ignite it.

_bob's avatar

@mattbrowne Better start working on that big-ass elevator, then.

mattbrowne's avatar

@bob_ – Where are the cheap carbon nanotubes? We needs tons of them.

Qingu's avatar

@kritz_the_cat, you really have no idea how climate change works, do you? Global warming refers to the average temperature of the whole Earth, which is demonstrably rising. That said, in certain locations, the climate might change in other ways—get drier, wetter, hotter, or colder, based on shifting weather patterns.

The problem isn’t that the climate is changing. The climate is always changing. The problem is that the climate is changing too fast for ecosystems and, potentially, human civilization to adjust. Burning fossil fuels directly contributes to it, as do ignorant and/or selfish people bury their head in the sand because they’re too lazy to change their lifestyles.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

I’m mostly ambivalent about it. The world is going to continue to use fossil fuels at an incredible rate until the reserves are exhausted. Then when our machines have no more petroleum based products to power them, the decision to move to more sustainable modes of energy will be forced upon us. The transition will be shaky and everyone will have to change how they live but we’ll make it through as a species. Humans survived for tens of thousands of years before they started using oil as fuel and they will survive after.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Qingu – Excellent comment. The change to our ecosystems will mean two things: drastically reduced biodiversity and changes to the food chains. If you just consider the oceans. In my opinion our species will survive this but accommodating the 9 billion people we are headed for is another matter.

dynamicduo's avatar

I don’t really feel anything about it, if anything I’m ambivalent like @The_Compassionate_Heretic. It’s humans exploiting a resource they have, same as they’ve always done, same as they’ll always do. It’s certainly a shame that alternative energy sources have not been well funded nor adopted, but that’s what you get when oil companies fund big and powerful lobbies.

And then there’s the nuclear angle of things, a technology we have greatly improved upon but is still haunted by the reputation of days past. Well, at least not here in Ontario Canada, where more than 50% of our power is provided by very few nuclear plants. I don’t think nuclear is an ideal long term solution, but I do believe it’s a better alternative than coal and fossil fuels and would be a great bridge between the future where more ecofriendly methods of energy harvesting can be adopted.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I can’t fathom a million years of anything, it’s feels unreal to imagine the human race surviving even another 5000 years. This doesn’t give me a feeling to do whatever I want in respect to conservation or mindful use but I don’t have great hopes either. It’s a sad statement, I know.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence Humans are resilient. The face of the earth will change drastically in 5000 years time but I predict they’ll still be around. We will probably have colonized space by that time.

kritz_the_cat's avatar

Thank you for the lecture on Global Warming.
I, fortunately do understand how it works.
Unfortunately, this topic is regarding how much energy we consume via fossil fuels. And though indirectly related, Global Warming was not the topic.
My comment was directed towards a poster who insinuated that we will all be baking in 90 degree heat come January in North America. That’s a silly statement.

The problem I have, is that whenever there is a hurricane, tornado, dryspell, wildfire, heatwave, cold snap or disease outbreak – Global warming becomes the culprit.
It’s a term that is ultimately losing resonance.

Qingu's avatar

Eh. You may have a point, it probably is an overused bogeyman. That doesn’t mean it’s not happening or that we shouldn’t try to prevent it.

mattbrowne's avatar

@kritz_the_cat – You can’t pinpoint an individual event of extreme weather. All you can do is count all of them over longer periods of time. Some people even think, hey, the last winter was really cold. I never thought climate change was real. Leftist propaganda. Let’s go back to building dinosaur cars. Let the damn European drive the small cars if they really want to.

jo_with_no_space's avatar

It makes me feel like we REALLY need to get to grips with this reality and adapt to new types of energy, and reduce our fossil fuel consumption. Almost scary really.

mattbrowne's avatar

@jo_with_no_space – I couldn’t agree more!

ratboy's avatar

Nature has too much time on her hands?

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