Most people try to see the benefits of everything, while a few will critique everything. Fossil fuels are used to power engines and home appliances and also to produce electric powers. However, contrary to many people’s opinion, fossil fuels are a problem and can have catastrophic effects on the environment and the people in the long term.
Some optimists tend to look at the good out of everything. These are the kind of people who will state the advantages of using fossil fuels. Some of these advantages can range from their uses in making medicines, plastics, and cosmetics, to their use in cars and airplanes (Energy for Missouri). People try to focus on the benefits that are associated with these fuels; this is because, eventually fossil fuels are used to perform many things in the house steady and the country at large.
On the other hand, the burning of fossil fuels has dire consequences to the environment. The burning causes the emission of some air pollutants, which are harmful to the public health and the environment (Science for a healthy planet and safer world). People believe that the manufacture of plastics is a positive development caused by fossil fuels but fail to look at the damage that these plastics have to the environment in the long term. People will use fossil fuels products and then dispose of them; this will have harmful effects on the environment and will ultimately be a cause of pollution.
The generation of fossil fuels promises people employment opportunities. People involved in these acts find this a good job opportunity because there are always opportunities in the extraction process. Like mining, extracting of fossil fuels is an economic activity, and people are hopeful that there will be more and more lands to get these products. In an economy where many people are looking for employment, mining is a crucial opportunity that can be taken by a lot of people without being limited by their experience or education level.
The extraction process of fossil fuels leads to the generation of water and air pollution and may ultimately harm local communities (Science for a healthy planet and safer world). There are costs that keep accruing at every point of the supply chain of fossil fuel. People rush at the opportunity while in the end, this opportunity leaves their communities exposed to a long-term problem. The air and water pollution can have dire consequences in the long term that may result to diseases, death or even affect global warming.
Transportation of fossil fuels presents the government with a means to add to their revenues through taxes, offers drivers a chance to make more money, and leads to the development of the country’s economy. This means more businesses are erupting and thus the country is continuously growing. The extraction and transportation of fossil fuels is a boost to the economy and promises growth of the company.
However, there are risks that are involved with the transportation of fossil fuels from the mines. They can lead to air pollution while the spillage of these fuels can have dire effects on the environment. The transportation process is also vulnerable to accidents. The discovery of more areas with fossil fuels may seem like a business opportunity and a chance for the economy to grow. However, these fuels emit toxic gasses and increase global warming. The waste products from these fuels have hazardous effects on the public health. Underground mining also postures a danger to miners’ well-being and safety as many are injured due to the risky working conditions from time to time. Mining has a lot of risk to miners, while fossil fuels have a lot of damaging effects to the environment and the people.
Energy for Missouri. “Energy Producing Systems: Fossil Fuels.” Today and Tomorrow n.d.: 57-64. <https://energy.mo.gov/energy/education/fossilfuelpower.pdf>. Accessed 30 March 2017.
“Science for a healthy planet and safer world.” The Hidden Costs of Fossil Fuels, 30 August 2016. <http://www.ucsusa.org/clean-energy/coal-and-other-fossil-fuels/hidden-cost-of-fossils#.WNy0xDG6x9M>. Accessed 30 March 2017.
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Fossil fuel extraction has been practised for decades. Some fossil fuels extracted include coal, oil, and natural gas formed from dead animals and plants. However fossil fuels have economic benefits, but over the years, it has continued to harm the environment. Despite the use of clean energy, many countries in the world continue to burn and extract fossil fuels more than before. The fact remains that we have more gas, coal, and oil than we can safely burn. Climate change has remained a challenge to the world considering the use of fossil fuels hence why it has not been easy to tackle global warming. The issue of fossil fuel is debatable, but it is possible to stop using it.
Scientists have argued that there is increased global warming due to pollution. Environmentalists are concerned about the industrial use of fossil fuels to produce power. According to Chmielewski (30), fossil fuels use produces major constituent that affects people’s lives. Of concern is the production of carbon and hydrogen. Moreover, fossil fuel consumption produces other materials like sulfur, heavy metal, and nitrogen compounds. It is these elements that affect the lives of people around industrial plants and inhabitants living in cities. The negative effect of fossil fuels threatens the life of people and, more so, small children. In this regard, minimising or stopping relying on fossil fuels is advisable.
However, using fossil fuels has caused a lot of damage to the world’s climate. For instance, by the end of 1990, many concerns were raised about fossil fuels’ role in generating greenhouse gas emissions and carbon dioxide that affected the climate (Covert 119). Research shows that about 70 per cent of global gas emissions are from the combustion of fossil fuels. Besides, according to research, coal emits 45% of the emissions, natural gas emits 20 per cent of the emissions, and oil emits 35% of the emissions (Covert 122). Only two options can be used to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. One option is to reduce future consumption of fossil fuels and the other option is to expand the size of world forests to capture carbon dioxide.
Few countries in the world have implemented viable policies to limit fossil fuel use by imposing taxes, regulations, and fees on carbon emissions. Data derived from BP Statistical Review of Energy show that both consumptions of coal and oil are down by 10 per cent while the use of natural gas is up by 10 percent from 2006 levels (Covert 132). Also, there have been few policy responses from developing countries aimed at limiting the consumption of fossil fuels even though they are even experiencing very high costs from conservative air pollution (Kalair et al. 135). However, some of these developed countries have greatly expanded the use of fossil fuels to an extent that they have 46 percent coal consumption, 33 percent oil consumption, and 35 percent gas consumption (Covert 136).
Therefore, it will not be easy to stop using fossil fuels as the main source of energy in the absence of considerable greenhouse gas policies. The fact will remain that the supply of fossil fuels will unlikely to run out, considering that the future technological change considers major new sources like methane hydrates and oil shale commercially viable. Some sources like solar and wind energy which act as alternative sources of clean energy have seen extensive progress in reducing costs. The only challenge is that wind power and solar power cannot run base-load electrical capacity engines. It will not be easy to implement some of the policies not to use fossil fuels in low- and middle-income countries because their people earn a low income. Therefore, it seems that the current combination of policies and markets cannot diminish the use of greenhouse gases without considering other viable measures.
According to Lelieveld et al. (7192), fossil fuel emissions account for 65 percent of mortality. The author argues that greenhouse gases affect not only public health, but also the hydrologic cycle and the climate. Of major effect is the effect of fossil fuel on the changes in climatic conditions. In recent times, the climate has become so severe that it is causing too much damage to people livelihood resulting in drought and destruction of property, which directly impacts people’s lives. Thus given the negative impact of using fossil fuels, it is prudent to argue that people can live better without its use. It is important to gradually or drastically minimize fossil fuel use to save millions of people from perturbed weather patterns and reduce negative aerosol in the environment.
Fossil fuels have sustained life for the past decade as a reliable source of power. From the invention of the locomotive to the transport industry, fossil fuels have played a considerable role in supporting the way of life worldwide. Even today, more than 60% of the world’s inhabitants rely on fossil fuel to run their industries, cars, and airplanes (World Nuclear Association). The growth of renewable energy sources has not made it easy for most people. Thus, there is still a long way to go to do away with fossil fuels, given their negative impact on our lives. People need the power to produce, warm their homes, and travel around the world. Thus, fossil fuels are important products that sustain people’s way of life.
In the past decade, the government has invested heavily in renewable energy. The production of electric vehicles to cut carbon monoxide on our environment is of concern. Major stakeholders in the car manufacturing business, from Tesla, Ford, Toyota, and Honda, are currently producing electric cars on a large scale. Therefore, doing away with fossil fuels to run our vehicles is possible. When this is done and given that there has been tremendous hydro power growth to run our industries, people will not need to use fossil fuels shortly.
Moreover, the positive effect of renewable power had made life more efficient and made our environment better. People’s life in green cities is much better than they used to be. The mortality rate is declining, and productivity and commerce are thriving on a large scale. In instances where fossil fuels are used to produce electricity the cost is so high to sustain it in to the future. Innovation into solar power, wind power has cut cost of producing power. Thus, the benefit of stopping fossil fuels outlay its usage.
Covert, Thomas, Michael Greenstone, and Christopher R. Knittel. “Will we ever stop using fossil fuels?” Journal of Economic Perspectives 30.1 (2016): 117-38.
Kalair, Anam, et al. “Role of energy storage systems in the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables.” Energy Storage 3.1 (2021): e135.
Lelieveld, J. et al. “Effects of fossil fuel and total anthropogenic emission removal on public health and climate.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 116 (2019): 7192 – 7197.
While several hypotheses are posited to describe and explain the causes of lightning, the scientific description and explanation tend to hold. Munoz, (2003), explains that most fulminologists argue that it is a form of electrostatic discharge in the atmosphere, which usually accompanies thunder. Most of the lightning does occur during thunderstorms or volcanic eruptions.
As water evaporates from the earth’s surface in the form of hot gas through convection into the atmosphere, they replace the cold air and condense beside the clouds to form dark cumulus nimbus clouds. These clouds form approximately 230, 000 feet ASL (above the sea level). As condensed air, forms water droplet while the rest changes into the ice sheet or snow particles. When these ice crystal and the water droplets collide with each other countercurrent, they create static electricity. The static electricity so formed builds up in different parts of the media (cloud and earth). As they build up, they reach various charge potentials. However, if the charge potentials (both positive and negative) reach their thresholds, the clouds discharge them. The positive (ve) and negative(-ve) charges created rapidly in different media tend to attract, however, as they continue to build up, a bridge is created naturally or through other media, a human being or electric poles (Wang, Ushio, & Kawasaki, 1995).
The difference in the electric potential of different part of the cloud causes a rift in which the clouds use a third media (an electric path) to bridge them to facilitate the flow of electric current and th surge results into a main stroke (Munoz, 2003).
How lightning works
Whenever the lower section of the cloud with the negative charges attain threshold, the electric charges within then cloud ionizes the air around the cloud. This turns the surrounding air into an electric path due to the conductivity of the static charges. This builds up and surge travels down to the ground into buildings and infrastructures. As the discharge continues, it creates charge vacuum after the leader stroke. The negative charges tend to move from the cloud to the ground and meets the streamers moving in the opposite direction. This counter movement of the electric charges is defined as the return stroke, which is usually observable to the bare eye. The main strokes lead to a zigzagging form of the flashes that light up the airspace following the pathway of the negative charges. The zigzag formation is due to the disparity between the ionization of the air. The most ionized parts appear in the form of sparks of light, and the less ionized parts do not show any lightning
Key characteristics of lightning
A flash of lightning can composes:
Flashes that appear intra-cloud (within the thunder cloud)
The temperatures of the lightning vary between 100 °C to 30,000 °C.
The most noteworthy characteristics are the speed at which lightning travels. The speed ranges from 100, 000km/h to 200, 000km/h.
All these characteristics have both negative and positive effects on nature, but it is commonplace to notice the negative impacts more than the benefits to nature. The most noteworthy impact is the damage to properties and injuries that people sustain when lightning strikes. However, it may be to fatal to results into death depending on the intensity and magnitude of the lightning.
Figure 1: picture of the lightning phenomena
What causes lightning?
According to Rakov, &, Uman, (2003), there are many causes of lightning, but the most probable explanation bases on the scientific facts around lightning. Wang, Ushio, & Kawasaki, (1995), argue that lightning is appearing during thunderstorms, because liquid and ice particles come into constant collision and as they collide, a large electrical field is developed amongst the clouds. As the electric fields enlarge, they form flashes due to the opposing positive and negative ions. This static electricity discharge is manifested in the form of flashes. This flashes carry with them electric energy being discharged and have an inherent nature of shifting into anything they meet. If the flashes are exposed to a human being and the magnitude of the electric charges within the flashes was high, the damage might be fatal or even kill. However, building is the most hit due to the large surface areas. Lighting effects are often seen in towns with various demographic characteristics, such as Texas.
Types of lightning flashes
There are various types of lightning flashes; this categorization is based on the Nature of occurrences. However, the main types are:
Ground to cloud:
These types of lightning occur due to the difference in electronic charge potential between the ground and the cloud above it.
Cloud to ground–
Cloud to ground lightning occurs when the charge difference between the cumulonimbus clouds and the earth ground beneath it is high. The cumulonimbus clouds tend to discharge the energy to maintain the potential. The energy is released in the form of flashes, which might lead to loss of lives.
Cloud to cloud–
This lightning occurs between separate clouds having different charge potentials. If it occurs between cloud, it is referred to as inter-cloud lightning; However, if the charge potential within a cloud is different, and a lightning flash is produced, Fulminologists refer to that as intra-cloud lightning (Rakov, &Uman, 2003)..
The intra-cloud and then inter-cloud occur between the cloud and then ground. The one occurring within the thundercloud poses no hazard, but the flashes of lightning occurring between the cloud and the earth lead to the destruction of buildings, infrastructures and lives.
Triggered lightning: This is the lightning-caused by acts of man, for example, during the launch of lightning rockets etc
Extraterrestrial lightning-These are the lightning that are registered in areas beyond the earth’s surface
While lightning has attracted a lot of attention among scholars and scientists, the most studied lightning is the cloud to ground lightning. This is so because of the magnitude and the prevalence in some areas. These areas exhibit similar characteristics such as large and tall skyscrapers, high population and extreme activities. The most prominent characteristics are the proximity and interaction to the skyscrapers, telecommunication systems, air planes, and other infrastructures. All these are naturally close to the thunderstorms and thus pose exceedingly significant threat. It is essential to realize that where as a single flash of lightning across the sky may only last for one second, it might contain an original return stroke and the two subsequent return strokes each lasting for approximately 90 milliseconds. Between the strokes there ere likely to be intervals of about 50 seconds
Rakov, &Uman, (2003), state that with each stroke, there mobile currents appear. These mobile electromagnet currents have a sub micro-second rise with insignificant fractional changes. It is also noteworthy that even if the electric flash encounters an electronic device, they are likely to spread to other adjacent areas causing interferences in the communication systems or electronically sensitive systems. The radiated electromagnetic waves with the negligible changes sometimes tend to interact antagonistically with avionics and other electronic devices (Munoz, 2003).
Recommendation for further research
Lightning are still a common phenomenon; however, there is a general belief that it has a connection with the metaphysical. Understanding the metaphysical aspects and the interconnectedness between scientific explanations of the causes of lightning and religious beliefs is imperative. The fundamental understanding of lightning in the religious circles might offer an introduction to the metaphysics. Perhaps the religious explanation may be realistic based on the law of evolution. However, as meteorologists and scientists believe that the electrostatic changes between different Media are responsible for the lightning, we should focus on the possible intervention to these struck by lightning, in addition to why some areas are exceptionally prone to lightning. The electronic combustion of air by particularly powerful electric fields, which results into the production of forces on the charges and the subsequent flow of energy, needs further investigation for counter interaction. It is also beneficial to investigate the manner in which the potential energy carried by the electrostatic changes to thermal, light and the sound energies and how they are transmitted to the surface of the earth.
Munoz, R., (2003). “Factsheet: Lightning“. University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. Retrieved November 7, 2007.
Wang, D, Ushio, T; Kawasaki, T., (1995). “A possible way to trigger lightning using a laser“. Journal of Atmospheric and Terrestrial Physics 57 (5): 456–466.
Rakov, V; &Uman, M, (2003). Lightning: Physics and Effects, Cambridge University Press,
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