Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate August 2001

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FOSSIL FUELS Fossil fuels are defined as fuels that are the remains of dead plants and animals that have fossilized over millions of years. Why would a person care about dead animals or plants? Because nearly all people in our society are dependent on vehicles, use electrical appliances, and keep their homes heated and cooled, usually through energy derived from fossil fuels. Without fossil fuels, these common luxuries would not be able to be effectively used. What happens if these fossil fuels run out? Many people believe that fossil fuels are in unlimited supplies and the world will never run out. This is incorrect; every twenty years since 1900, the amount of energy (via fossil fuels) being used has doubled. This is an alarming statistic.

Petroleum (oil), coal and natural gas are the big three of fossil fuels. Over 85% of all commercial energy, energy that is produced by businesses and government and sold to the public, come from those three fossil fuels.

There are a few ways our government and industry retrieves these resources. Buying fossil fuels from other countries is common practice; however, doing so puts the US at the mercy of foreign governments who control output and ultimately the cost of such fuels. Another way is by drilling for oil and petroleum or by digging for coal. Oil and natural gas are found in 18 of California's 58 counties, as well as in other states like Alaska and Texas. The resources are here, but they will not always be. Our country and our government must constantly be reminded of this.

Petroleum makes up about 40% of the world's energy and of this, 40% is consumed in the United States. That petroleum is used for such things as transportation fuels, which are gasoline and diesel fuels, and heating...