Environmental concerns have already left the terrain of potential hazards and became exact threats visible to everyone. One of the reasons of deteriorating environment is extensive use of oil in transportation which accounts for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions (Ogden, Williams and Larson 7).
People have understood that their ways of life are leading to excessive use of natural resources which are becoming scarce. Furthermore, numerous financial crises have led to decrease in income of many American families. Therefore, conventional fuels have become less affordable. More so, the use of fossil fuels has a negative impact on people’s health and this is also a great concern in many countries. Clearly, it is time to start the necessary change and come up with an effective solution to the problem. One of these solutions is the use of alternative fuels. These resources of energy have already proved to be very efficient and cost-effective. Hence, the US government has to invest into the development of this sphere in order to solve a number of the most urgent issues.
As has been mentioned above, environment has been vulnerable as the use as well as production of fossil fuels is associated with numerous hazards. It has been estimated that the use of fossil fuels has led to a considerable increase (over 25%) in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (Casper xii).
Importantly, black carbon accounts for 60% of the “global warming effect” (Casper xiii). Apart from atmosphere pollution, production of fossil fuels contributes to water pollution as well. Besides, extraction of fossil fuels is also associated with changes in ecosystems which, in its turn, may have a variety of negative effects for the environment. There is no need in enumerating negative effects of such environmental changes as global warming or pollution as people have already acknowledged them. Clearly, some may argue that people still need energy to maintain their ways of life and this is the price people pay for their comfort. However, the price may be much lower if alternative fuels are used.
Production of alternative fuels is associated with less emission than production of fossil fuels. Ogden, Williams and Larson note that the use and even production of these sources of energy are less costly for the environment as the researchers calculated that environmental cost of some of alternative fuels is 16% lower than that of conventional sources of energy (18). Of course, some may say that it is not a big difference, but these are only first steps in that direction. Of course, further research is crucial and it is clear that alternative fuels have a great potential. Some people also argue that additional investment into development of alternative fuels may become an unbearable burden for the American economy.
However, it is estimated that the use of alternative fuels is economically beneficial for the USA. In the first place, it is necessary to stress that cost-effectiveness of fossil fuels is quite doubtful. Coal is seen as the least efficient sources of energy as its production is very expensive. Notably, oil and gas are more convenient for production, transportation and consumption than coal, but these sources are still quite costly. It is also important to note that there has been “a steep decline in drilling activity” in the country due to shortage of deposits of gas and oil in some areas as well as availability of these resources in the Middle East (Perry 248). Thus, it was estimated that it was more cost-effective to import oil and gas rather than invest in its domestic production.
Nonetheless, the oil crisis of the 1970 showed that the USA was quite vulnerable and energetically insecure. High prices for oil made Americans understand that this resource is valuable and its shortage can undermine development of the society. Perry notes that the country still heavily relies on imported oil and, hence, depends on the world prices on this resource (250). Admittedly, this dependence can be dangerous for the well-being of Americans and the US economy.
More so, researchers agree that fossil fuels are non-renewable resources and the increasing demand leads to rapid decrease of these natural resources. It has been estimated that even though the USA imports 50% of oil “at the present rate of consumption of its own reserves… could run out of domestic oil in a matter of years, not decades” (Maxwell 126). Therefore, it is essential to look for alternative options to ensure energetic security of the country.
Interestingly, in the first part of the twentieth century, ethanol and oil producers competed to gain more consumers. The Great Depression of the 1930s made lots of people in Germany and the USA turn to ethanol fuel due to high prices on oil (Freudenberger 7). It is also necessary to note that production of ethanol facilitates development of the Brazilian economy (Freudenberger 15). Some researchers argue that alternative fuels are more cost effective but this sphere needs a lot of investment (Ogden, Williams and Larson 25). Thus, the use of hybrid cars led to the need to develop the necessary infrastructure. Likewise, production and use of alternative fuels will require certain funds. This is seen as a drawback of the use of alternative fuels.
At that, it is important to remember that fossil fuels deposits are distributed disproportionally and countries which consume most of these resources often have to bring them from other areas. Therefore, transportation of fossil fuels requires construction of railroads, pipelines and so on (Maxwell 173). Of course, these facilities contribute to contamination of the environment and additional use of resources (especially land). When it comes to alternative fuels, they are usually available in the place they are needed. The country does not have to rely on costly import as these resources are domestically available.
Moreover, this is a long-term investment in the energetic security of the USA. It is impossible to try to economize at the expense of the country’s future. The country as well as every citizen will not be dependable on world prices on some resources (Perry 249). Besides, this can be a great option for the development of the US economy. Development of this industry means creation of new jobs which are necessary as unemployment rate in the country is quite high. This industry has a great potential and can involve numerous professionals in chemical industry, science and so on. It is possible to take into account Brazilian experience to develop new programs on production of alternative fuels.
Finally, it is crucial to pay attention to another important outcome. People’s health is also affected by the use and production of fossil fuels. Maxwell claims that there are numerous ways people are affected. In the first place, people involved in the industry are often vulnerable to a variety of chronic disorders (122). The researcher emphasizes that coal mining is one of the most dangerous industries and it is associated with certain death toll during production and deterioration of health in workers as well as people living near mines (Maxwell 122).
Oil production is associated with oil spills which are potentially dangerous for the environment and human’s health. Burning fossil fuels emit numerous hazardous chemicals which negatively affect people’s health worldwide. As far as alternative fuels production is concerned, it does not lead to significant pollution of the environment. People involved in their production and those living near the production areas are also safe as there are no pollutants which are present in fossil fuels. Finally, production of alternative fuels is less dangerous than that of fossil fuels.
On balance, it is possible to note that the use and production of alternative fuels is a necessary step to the future of the US nation. Americans have to achieve energetic security in order to be less vulnerable to global economic changes. In the highly technological world, energetic security is crucial for any country. Of course, production of alternative fuels will need considerable investment and further research. However, the US economy needs this chance to overcome stagnation it is going through. The sphere of alternative fuels can help the US government create new jobs and improve Americans’ well-being. It also opens up new horizons and enables people to live in a much healthier environment.
Casper, Julie Kerr. Fossil Fuels and Pollution: The Future of Air Quality. New York, NY: Infobase Publishing, 2010. Web.
Freudenberger, Richard. Alcohol Fuel: A Guide to Making and Using Ethanol as a Renewable Fuel. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers, 2013. Web.
Maxwell, Nancy Irwin. Understanding Environmental Health: How We Live in the World. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers, 2014. Web.
Ogden, Joan M., Robert H. Williams and Eric D. Larson. “Societal Lifecycle Costs of Cars With Alternative Fuels/Engines.” Energy Policy 32.1 (2004): 7-27. Web.
Perry, Harry. “Clean Fuels from Coal.” Advances in Energy Systems and Technology. Ed. Peter Auer. New York, NY: Academic Press, 2013. 244-324. Web.