Oil or Alternative Energy? Pros & Cons
Oil, or also either crude oil or just petroleum, is a flammable liquid that is naturally occurring. It is made up of a complicated combination of hydrocarbons and other fluid compounds, which are located in geologic formations underneath the surface of the Earth. The history of oil can be traced back to as far as Herodotus (Ancient Greek historian), who wrote that there were oil pits near Ancient Babylon. Oil has been used by mankind ever since, and the U.S. is no exception. The history of the U.S. oil industry goes back to Edwin Drake and his drilling of an oil well in Pennsylvania in 1859. The following will discuss uses of oil and also its pros and its cons.
The U.S.’ main energy source is oil, which comes with both pros and cons. Since about 90 percent of all vehicles are fueled by oil, it makes sense that oil is the main energy source in the U.S., seeing as how necessity dictates this. The costs in terms of jobs lost will be astronomical, if the U.S. moves off of oil as the main energy source because of all the employees working in the oil industry to supply petroleum for vehicles. Another pro of having oil as such a prominent source of energy is the fact that a lot of the alternative energy ideas (such as solar energy) are not anywhere close to the stage, at this point, where they can be feasible or widely used sources of energy.
The cons of the U.S. being dependent on oil are huge. The first con with the U.S.’ main source of energy being oil is in regards to foreign policy. Since a lot of the oil used in the U.S. comes from abroad, particularly the Middle East, a major con is that the U.S.’ foreign policy is held hostage by the interests of Middle Eastern dictators. These dictators usually do not have the same goals as well as values as the U.S., but the U.S. has no choice but to do business with them because of the need for oil. Another con relates to the high price of fuel at the pump. Being dependent mainly on oil means that Americans have no choice but to pay the ever-increasing prices at the gas pump to power their vehicles, especially during heavy driving seasons like the summer.
One of the loudest voices to complain about the U.S. dependence on oil (foreign as well as domestic) is the environmental lobby. This is because finding and exploiting oil sometimes requires that environmental habitats be destroyed or at least damaged in order to extract the oil from the ground. For example, drilling for oil sometimes involves destroying habitats and, as a result, directly jeopardizing the survival of certain species of animals. In addition, drilling for oil from the ground also involves a certain amount of pollution, which further hurts the environment beyond just damaging habitats and endangering some species of animals to extract the oil from the ground.
Environmental lobbies oftentimes insist on the use of alternative energy sources to deal with the U.S. reliance on oil. Electricity can be generated by solar, geothermal and wind energy, which means getting electricity from the sun, steam from the interior of the Earth, and wind as a source of energy. This has benefits of polluting the planet less because the sources of energy are natural. In addition, habitats and wildlife also are spared more than in the case of drilling for oil, which has the tendency to disturb the environment and the wildlife. However, one of the biggest cons for alternative energy sources such as electricity from wind and the sun is the fact that this technology and approach are still in their infancy. As a consequence, the industry is not very well developed, meaning that costs to implement these alternative energy approaches are oftentimes more expensive than getting power from oil.
Oil has been a part of the world since the beginning of mankind, and its necessity only intensified with the dawn of the industrial age. In the U.S., oil is the main source of energy on which the country’s economic life is built; if a stoppage of oil supply occurs, the results will be disastrous. The U.S. reliance on oil has both pros and cons, and it is because of these cons that the topic of alternative energy is getting increasingly contentious, even if it is still not developed enough to make a difference. Alternative energy is meant to be friendlier to the environment.
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