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Should we phase out fossil fuels? Show more Show less
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Fossil fuels are used to generate power in various facilities, providing energy for our homes, appliances, and devices. This energy has become critical to our daily lives, in turn making the use of fossil fuels essential. Despite this, debates have sprouted forth, contesting the use of fossil fuels to generate power. The questions posed by these debates are: Should the use of fossil fuels be discontinued due to their effects on climate? Or should we continue to use them for fear of economic setbacks?

No, we should not phase out fossil fuels Show more Show less

Fossil fuels are too important to get rid of, and doing so will only do more harm to our society than it will any good.
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Replacing fossil fuels would be too costly and time-consuming

It would take a great deal of time and money for fossil fuels to be effectively replaced with clean energy. The time and money required to make the transition would likely do damage to the economy.
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The Argument

Even if fossil fuels are as problematic as they seem, phasing them out will not only be time-consuming, but detrimental within the realm of cost. To generate the same amount of electricity we currently utilize, we would need to produce even more energy to capture that same amount of power. That extra energy is needed because the type of energy that renewable resources produce has a lower energy density than that of fossil fuels. In essence, one would need to make up for what energy is lost when making the switch to renewable energy, which in turn makes it more costly. [1] In addition to requiring more energy generation, renewable energy will also require the use of more materials than fossil fuel energy would. A study conducted by Austrian researcher Edgar Hertwich found that solar photovoltaics (PV) can require 10 to 40 times more copper per megawatt-hour than fossil fuel-fired plants. [1] More materials would generally lead to large purchase orders, and the larger they are, the more expensive they will be. Fossil fuels are also in abundance, contrary to the idea that we can easily run out of fossil fuels since they are non-renewable. Advancing technology is making possible the discovery of new sources of non-renewable energy, for example, the somewhat recent ability for us to tap into oil shales and methane hydrates. [2] It would not make much sense to let such an energy-rich resource go to waste, especially if it is the cheaper of the two options (the other being renewable energy resources). Not to mention how difficult it would be to convert an entire country's electrical system and to make sure that everything works as it should without fail.

Counter arguments

On the other hand, phasing out fossil fuels might not be as costly as previously thought. Recent speculations concerning the Boston Consulting Group, a consulting firm, suggests that the future of oil consumption is getting harder to predict in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. This outlook on the oil industry alludes to a lowered sense of faith in the industry, especially as most companies around the world are already working on reducing emissions. [3] Thus, if the oil industry is on the road to failing, then it stands to reason that there will be an incentive to start preparing for phasing fossil fuels like oil out of energy generation as it would be too costly to continue supporting the venture. In a similar vein, a study suggests that around 75% of coal production is more expensive than renewables. This expense stems from rising maintenance costs, including the addition of pollution controls which prevent pollutants from affecting the environment at large. [4] Overall, the coal industry is being left behind by the wind and solar industries since their technologies have seen improvement, making them less costly than their coal counterparts.

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/daneberhart/2020/08/03/its-harder-than-you-think-to-stop-using-fossil-fuels/#3c3f13c9202c
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/43710013?seq=1
  3. https://www.axios.com/investors-oil-gas-fossil-fuels-future-climate-change-c270391b-1eca-4f24-a0e4-d46f14a1c8fc.html
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/mar/25/coal-more-expensive-wind-solar-us-energy-study
This page was last edited on Thursday, 5 Nov 2020 at 03:55 UTC

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