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Arnold Fernandez

January 9, 2015
Period 7
Word Count; 1330
Environmental Systems and Societies Research Paper

Without the sun, the Earth would be uninhabitable. The heat and energy that the Earth
consumes from the sun is where all of our energy comes from. As humans, we rely heavily on
the consumption of fossil fuels. These are sources of stored energy from the sun, they stem from
centuries ago and they represent a large portion of our energy today. Fossil fuels power 80% of
the worlds economy. Non-renewable resources (coal, oil, etc.), resources that have a scarce
amount and cannot be replaced (Rutherford, 2012) merely gives us 6% of total energy. This
stems from the fact that they cannot be restocked after use; leading to limited amounts of
consumption. Renewable resources (fusion, wood, Hydroelectric power, etc.) however, offer a
more prolonged duration of use because they have the ability to restock themselves (Rutherford,
2012). Despite these seemingly different types of resources, they each have their share of
advantages and disadvantages. Oil and hydroelectric powers are the most used resources in their
selected groups. They each offer different uses and possess not only advantages but also
Oil is the most used source for world energy (insert citation here). It is obtained from
fossilized plants and microorganisms that are compressed to a liquid and found in porous rocks.
Oil is the source for 37% of the worlds energy. It is mostly used burnt directly in transport or to
generate electricity. The current price of an oil barrel is $45.891. This is a surprisingly low price


considering how it was 7 years ago. The consumption, however, has never been higher. This
graph2 illustrates the rising production of oil in the US throughout the years.

In 2013, the US reached an all time high in oil consumption reaching 557,000 barrels per day.
We are consuming more than we are producing and this can only lead to a problem in the future.

The reason why oil is the most used source of energy in the world is because it is one of the most
abundant energy resources.
Smith (2014) stated:
In June, BP provided an intriguing update to its global oil reserves estimates in the
company's yearly review of energy statistics. It raised its reserve estimate by 1.1% to
1,687.9 billion barrels just enough oil to last the world 53.3 years at the current
production rates.

Two-thirds of oil reserves are in the Middle East. The majority of the rest is located in Russia and
the US.


Another benefit of oil is that it is in liquid form, allowing for it to be easy to transport and use.
Other resources such as nuclear fission cannot be transported, foiling one of the best aspects of

Along with that, oil has a high heating value enabling it to convert into energy much easier. It has
a high level of combustion meaning that it is much practical to obtain energy from it.

Once found, oil is very simple to mine. It is relatively inexpensive allowing for high production
rates with low costs. The grand luxury of oil is that it does not require new technology to use.
Little money goes into research and development because it does not require any sorts of

Just as there are advantages, there are many disadvantages concerning oil. The main problem
being that there is a limited supply of it. Oil will eventually run out in 50 years time and this will
cause a huge problem globally. With so many countries dependant on oil, humans as a whole
must discover an alternative source of energy that is just as efficient as oil. Coal is the best
alternative despite the difficulties in mining coal. Like coal, oil releases carbon dioxide when
burnt and this harms the environment in a negative way. Another disadvantage of oil is that oil
spills can occur when extracting it. This not only affects the waters in the ocean but it also harms
the ecosystem. These spills are detrimental to many sea creatures and can eventually result in a
large problem. Due to some oil pipelines being under water, many terrorists in an effort to steal
oil coordinate attacks towards the pipes. The countries spend money in providing for security to
ensure that this does not happen.

The countries that produce the most oil are Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the United States3


Oil - production (bbl/day)






















The countries that consume the most oil are the United States, China and Japan.4


Oil - consumption (bbl/day)























Hydroelectric power is energy that is obtained from the movement of water through rivers, lakes
and dams that power turbines and thus generating electricity (Rutherford, 2012). They account
for merely 3% of the world energy sources. This type of resource is said to be renewable because
their is infinite supply. The flow of water through these locations are never ending and thus
allows for unlimited source of energy. It has a high quality energy output compared with low
quality energy input. Along with this, HEP creates water reserves as well as energy supplies for
humans to use in the future. The reservoirs used are for recreation, and amenity.

Hydroelectric power also contributes to the storage of drinking water. The reservoirs collect
rainwater that can later be used for irrigation or consumption. These power plants also do not
release dangerous gases or toxins. It does not produce a problem for the environment. It plays a
major role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 5

The negative about this resource is that it is very expensive to build. Not only does it require
money, but it needs time and labor to be able to create a project as large as a hydroelectric power

plant. With a dam in place, it can cause flooding in surrounding areas and if the dam were to ever
break, it will cause a major flood in the community. It is a high risk, high reward type of
resource. The risk of it ever breaking can cause not only huge chaos but also financial and social
setbacks in nearby communities.

This resource may be costly, but it is very useful because of it being renewable. The importance
of this is crucial because it means that there is unlimited supply. The value this has is undermined
because eventually, when non-renewable resources have been used to it maximum amount, we
will need to use these as our main source of energy. Non-renewable resources are much more
efficient in providing energy. Oil, coal, and nuclear fission are faster and stronger in producing
energy. Yet, the downside of this is that this consumption will not last forever. Eventually, the
resource will diminish and we will have to adapt to not using the better resources.
Until we find a more efficient renewable resource, we must continue to primarily use the nonrenewable resources because they offer a better source of energy than renewable resources.

1. Advantages of Hydroelectric Power Production and Usage. (n.d.). Retrieved January 17, 2015,

2. Country Comparison Oil - consumption. (n.d.). Retrieved January 17, 2015, from
3. Crude Oil Price, Oil, Energy, Petroleum, Oil Price, WTI & Brent Oil, Oil Price Charts and Oil
Price Forecast. (2014, January 1). Retrieved January 17, 2015, from
4. Smith, L. (2014, October 22). World Energy Day 2014: How Much Oil is Left and How Long
Will it Last? Retrieved January 17, 2015, from
5. World Sets New Oil Production and Consumption Records. (n.d.). Retrieved January 17, 2015,