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The importance of Oil



  • The major part of farming equipment is either built in oil-powered plants or uses diesel as fuel. Nearly all pesticides and many fertilisers are made from oil.

  • Most plastics, used in everything from computers and mobile phones to pipelines, clothing and carpets, are made from oil-based substances.

  • A reduction in supplies, in the 1970s, of just 5 per cent caused a price increase of more than 400 per cent. As little as 10 to 15 per cent could cripple oil-dependent industrial economies.

  • Manufacturing requires huge amounts of energy - fossil fuels. It takes on average at least 20 barrels of oil to build a single car in the US.

  • Large amounts of oil are needed to produce most renewable energy equipment requires.

  • The production of metals - particularly aluminium - cosmetics, hair dye, ink and many common painkillers all rely on oil.

    Alternative sources of power

    Coal

    There are still an estimated 909 billion tonnes of proven coal reserves worldwide, enough to last at least 155 years. But coal is a fossil fuel and a dirty energy source

    Natural gas

    The natural gas fields in Siberia, Alaska and the Middle East should last 20 years longer than the world's oil reserves but, although cleaner than oil, natural gas is still a fossil fuel that emits pollutants. It is also expensive to extract and transport as it has to be liquefied.

    Hydrogen fuel cells

    Hydrogen fuel cells would provide us with a permanent, renewable, clean energy source as they combine hydrogen and oxygen chemically to produce electricity, water and heat. The difficulty, however, is that there isn't enough hydrogen to go round and the few clean ways of producing it are expensive.

    Biofuels

    Ethanol from corn and maize has become a popular alternative to oil. However, studies suggest ethanol production has a negative effect on energy investment and the environment because of the space required to grow what we need.

    Renewable energy

    Oil-dependent nations are turning to renewable energy sources such as hydroelectric, solar and wind power to provide an alternative to oil but the likelihood of renewable sources providing enough energy is slim.

    Nuclear

    Fears of the world's uranium supply running out have been allayed by improved reactors and the possibility of using thorium as a nuclear fuel. But an increase in the number of reactors across the globe would increase the chance of a disaster and the risk of dangerous substances getting into the hands of terrorists.

    (This information came mainly from an article in the Independent June 14 2007 )

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