Fossil fuel is a non-renewable resource formed by natural processes containing a high percentage of carbon, including coal, natural gas, heavy oils, petroleum, tar sands, and bitumen. Fossil fuels are highly important because they can produce a great amount of energy when they are burnt. Therefore, they have been consumed at an increasing rate since the industrial revolution in the 18th century (Lenferna 219). Therefore, the paper will discuss the status of the world’s energy supply of oils, gas, and coal and give a current estimate of each. A discussion about the measures that global governments are taking to conserve the resources will be provided. Lastly, the paper will reflect on the present and future (20-50 years from now) situation of oil, gas, and coal use.
The Status of World’s Energy Supply of Oil, Gas, and Coal
Oil is a vital energy source globally, and experts suggest that peak rate of production (‘Peak Oil’) has been attained. Importantly, limited amount of these resources is remaining, while global demand is increasing. The ‘Peak Oil’ model explains that reaching peak oil results in the declination of oil production. Consequently, the countries that import oil get subjected to immense economic effects. The National Petroleum Council projected that the oil demand globally would rise from 80 million barrels per day to 138 million barrels per day in 2030 (Lenferna 219). Still, experts fail to reach the common ground on whether the world will still supply high amounts of oil in the future. At the current consumption level, there are only forty-seven years of oil left in the world, disregarding the new reserves where China, India, and the United States consume 54% of the world’s fossil fuels (Covert et al. 119). During the current period when the world is facing a pandemic, the global oil market is facing challenges since the demand for oils has become extremely low.
Gas supply has continued to grow globally, reaching new landmarks in international trade and consumption. Recently, the prices have been very low due to the abundant supply. COVID-19 pandemic is causing uncertainty in the gas sector, especially in the global economy. In 2020 its demands declined by 4%, and the Liquefied Natural Gas demand declined by 4.2% (Helm 193). Experts explain that despite the high consumption level, there are 52 years of natural gas left. They explain that the world consumes 132 million cubic feet of natural gas per year and 17 527 cubic feet of natural gas per capita every year (Ediger 3). However, there is a high demand for gas globally due to the switch from coal and gas in major markets such as China and the US. Gas has low carbon transitions, which justifies its high preference in use (Covert et al. 119). Reduced carbon components in natural gas makes it environmentally friendly.
Global demand for coal continues to decline because it has been replaced by gas and electricity, especially in North America and Europe, where coal use was limited by Environmental Policies to prevent air pollution. Nevertheless, it remains the second-largest energy source and the largest source of electricity. The entire world’s recoverable reserves constitute 1.14 trillion tons, with 75% of them being located in five countries (Helm 193). Experts suggest that there is enough coal to last for 132 years. The world consumes 8.7 billion tons of coal per year, and 3,143 cubic feet per capita is used every day (Ediger 3). More conservation measures should be introduced to ensure continued supply of coal three or four centuries.
Measures Governments Are Taking to Conserve the Environment
The government is encouraging the use of renewable energy to conserve resources. This energy is bio-friendly, and it does not produce toxic or harmful gases which might damage the ozone layer and lead to climate change and global warming. Another measure that is being implemented is recycling, which helps in the reuse of available products instead of making new products that require resources (Covert et al. 119). When new materials are manufactured, waste production is reduced, thus decreasing air pollution. Importantly, cardboard, paper, plastic bottles, and aluminium can be recycled.
The use of biofuels is another initiative that the government has encouraged to conserve the environment. Although fossil fuels have been the source of energy, they are rapidly depleting the need to search for another alternative, such as bio-fuels that are majorly obtained from plants. Bio-fuels are known to reduce the occurrence of air pollution and bio-friendly (Newman 801). The government also encourages industrial waste and sewage treatment, which are harmful to the ecosystem, before released into the water bodies. The industrialization has greatly contributed to the pollution of rivers, lakes, and oceans, especially in developing countries (Ediger 3). Therefore, the waste should be handled properly to prevent pollution.
The Outlook of Oil, Gas, and Coal in the Next 20-50 Years
Considering oil, there will be a great impact on its demand in the next 20-30 years since many countries will switch to renewable resources. Experts suggest that there will be a drop from 11 million barrels per day until 2050 (Helm 193). Since the production of plastic is responsible for the half of the petrochemical consumption of oil, there will be a reduction in the demand for oil by 14 million barrels per day by 2050 (Ediger 3). Governments should develop strategies aimed at reducing oil consumptions, such as manufacture of electric cars.
On the other hand, natural gas is the major fuel for industries, and its demand has been growing over the years. The prices are continually lowering due to its availability, and it is reducing the dependence on oil to achieve a low-carbon future. Gas is environmentally friendly, and it will curb the issues to do with carbon emissions however there will be a 39% decline in gas in 2050 (Helm 193). The total consumption in the next 20 years will increase by 60%, where coal will be a major power source. It will still be a reliable and affordable source of fuel. According to the International Energy Agency, international coal trade volume will improve in the next thirty years (Helm 193). Therefore, natural gas should be an alternative to oil and coal because of its safety and moderate cost.
As a result of research, a significant decrease in fossil fuels can be observed, and they should be seen as a scarce resource. Over the years, there has been a shift in the most preferred fuel type from coal to oil, which is currently gas. However, fossil fuels have played an immense role in the global energy system, and they have been the drivers of economic development. Globally, pollution from fossil fuels remains a major challenge despite the current technological advancements. Therefore, the world should rapidly transition to low-carbon sources of energy like renewables and nuclear to avoid fossil fuels.
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