How Much Fossil Fuels do We Have Left?

Fossil fuels fall under the category of non renewable energy sources. There is a limited amount of oil, coal, and natural gas in the Earth’s crust. Fossil fuels are made when decomposable material, such as dinosaur bones, were buried in the earth millions of years ago. Coal is made from plants that once lived millions of years ago, oil is made from plankton that lived millions of years ago, and natural gas is mainly methane produced from the decomposition of materials in the Earth’s crust. These fossil fuels can be used to power machines, factories, and everything that requires electricity. The Industrial Revolution, from 1760 to around 1840, was what really started the world off in its fast paced consumption of fossil fuels. In the present day world, we annually consume the equivalent of 11 tons of oil. At this rate it is predicted that we will run out of crude oil reserves by 2052. We have enough coal to last hundreds of years, but if the reserves of oil and natural gas run out then coal will be used to fill that hole; this will cause the hundreds of years to be greatly lessened.


In this graph it shows that we will run out of all fossil fuels by 2088 if we continue to consume the fuel at the rate we do currently. Sixteen of the twenty largest oil reserves are already past their max capacity which means that we are not gathering as much fuel as we did now from them as we did. Fossil fuels are running out, and will be completely used up in the next hundred years or so. In the 1970s the Saudi Oil Minister said, “The Stone Age didn’t end for lack of stone, and the oil age will end long before the world runs out of oil.” He thinks that we will be moving on to greater, more efficient ways of generating energy. These ways are almost upon us with renewable energy sources such as wind power, solar power, or water power. Solar power especially has not met its full potential, as of now solar panels usually run around 11-15% efficiency, hydro-electric energy is 90% efficient, wind power is around 35% efficient, the efficiency of coal plants are around 40% efficiency. If the efficiency of the renewable energy sources can be bettered then a replacement for the consumption of fossil fuels will have been found. As the Saudi Oil Minister said it is only a matter of time before we find a replacement for fossil fuels.


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