helping the generation who decided uppercase letters were overrated pass AP environmental science.
every time you turn on a light, your TV, or your car, you use energy. every single thing you own also required energy to be manufactured (the materials for your house, your clothes, your phone, literally everything).
when i say energy i mean like electricity. there’s lots of different ways to make electricity, like with fossil fuels, biofuels (like wood and stuff), wind turbines, dams, solar panels, etc.
for most of them, the real goal is to spin a turbine. which spins a generator, which makes electricity. apparently that’s the best way to do it.
so what humanity has decided is that we’re also gonna use steam to spin the turbine. and to make steam you need water. but you also need heat, so you have to burn something.
so we burn coal, oil, or natural gas (your classic icky sticky fossil fuels) to make heat, which heats up water, which turns into steam, which spins the turbine, which spins the generator, which makes electricity. here’s a diagram if that’s too much.
when you burn wood you get smoke, right? well, when you burn fossil fuels you get a bunch of carbon dioxide, along with some other pollutants like nitrogen and sulfur oxides. the pollutants go up into the atmosphere and trap heat. heat comes in from the sun and can’t leave. our global temperatures rise. thus, global warming.
so how do we fix it? renewable energy. you’ve probably seen dams, wind turbines, and solar panels. you may have assumed they’re more expensive.
there’s pros and cons to every source of energy. i break that down here (jk not yet, blog post coming soon though!). but really, fossil fuels are only getting more inefficient. we dug up all the easiest coal first, but now they have to spend more money digging deeper just to get the same amount of coal, natural gas, and oil. geothermal, nuclear, solar, hydroelectric, & wind energy have higher Energy Return On Investments (EROI) than natural gas or oil, meaning they’re more cost efficient.
another way to stop/slow global warming is carbon sequestration which is why everyone wants to plant so many trees.
so how are fossil fuels still in business? why do we still use them?
well you give them money everyday. look back at the first paragraph of this post. chances are everything you own was made with fossil fuel energy, and chances are you get your electricity from them too. the energy that’s powering whatever device you’re using right now probably came from fossil fuels.
also we use petroleum to make plastic so everything made out of plastic is made out of oil.
also the government subsidizes them a lot and if you don’t know what a subsidy is, it basically means the government gives them free money. from 1950-2010, the U.S. government gave $594 billion of its citizens’ money to oil, gas, and coal corporations. the government subsidizes renewable energy a lot less, giving $171 billion in that same time period, mostly to hydro-power and corn ethanol.
fossil fuels are non-renewable by nature, but coal will last us for over a hundred more years.
if you want our government to stop subsidizing fossil fuels and start prioritizing using renewable energy in the USA, let them know. vote for politicians who actually care about the environment. put pressure on local, state, and national government to create & enforce policies that protect the planet.
i think that’s all! if you have any questions comment down below or send @protectingplaneta a DM on instagram and i’ll respond or make another blog about it.