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Fossil Fuels, Alternatives, and Politics in 2012

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The editors at Best MPH Programs decided to research the topic of

Fossil Fuels, Alternatives, and Politics in 2012

Reliance on fossil fuels has been a concern to government and the public for decades. Many want to abolish their use because of pollution, global warming and sustainability projections. Some deny the need for clean energy and reject projections as misinformation. What side is right? Let's take a look at the hard facts about energy production.

Fossil Fuels

- Sustainability

- We have 500B tons ofknown coal reserves
- Our coal reserves couldlast 120-240

- Environmental Impact
- Fossil fuels release sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide

- Pollutants in Various Fossil Fuels (in lbs. of emission per billion BTUs):
- Natural Gas
- Carbon Dioxide (CO2) 117,000
- Carbon Monoxide (CO) 40
- Nitrogen Oxides 92
- Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) 1
- Particulates 7
- Mercury (Hg) 0

- Oil
- CO2 164,000
- CO 33
- Nitrogen Oxides 448
- SO2 1,122
- Particulates 84
- Hg 0.007

- Coal
- CO2 208,000
- CO 208
- Nitrogen Oxides 457
- SO2 2,591
- Particulates 2,744
- Hg 0.016

- Productivity Statistics
- 41% of the world's energy production is coal
- 20% of it is natural gas
-6% is oil

- Total Proportion of Coal Energy in Developed/Developing Countries
- South Africa 93%
- The People's Republic of China 79%
- Australia 77%
- USA 49%

- Politics
- All American political affiliations oppose subsidies for "coal, oil, and natural gas companies," by a ratio of 70% to 30%
- Republicans: 67% to 34%
- There are $409 billion in global govt. funds allocated to fossil fuels

- Mitt Romney supports development of fossil fuels:
- "Ensure that policies for expanding energy development apply broadly to energy sources, from oil and gas exploration, to coal mining, to the siting of wind, solar, hydroelectric, and other renewable energy facilities."

- Obama opposes subsidies:
- "As we continue to pursue clean energy technologies that will support future economic growth, we should not devote scarce resources to subsidizing the use of fossil fuels produced by some of the largest, most profitable companies in the world."



- Sustainability

- Breeder reactors convert certain types of uranium into plutonium, and thorium to uranium
- Our 30M tons of uranium could last 300 years
- The 2B ton ocean reserve is good for 20,000 years
- The 22B ton reserve above 20 ppm concentration can provide 220,000 years of power
- Environmental Impact

- Produces operational and decommissioning waste
- Storage and transport history shows no technical management problem
- Industry takes responsibility for its waste and costs
- Nuclear waste actually declines in toxicity - most wastes don't
- No CO2, SO2 or nitrogen oxide emissions

- Productivity Statistics
- 13.5% of the world's power is nuclear

- Pros:
- Converting to nuclear would reduce emissions
- It can sustain us while we devise more viable alternatives
- Scientists believe current energy practices pose greater public health risks than nuclear power

- Cons:
- Negative stigma

- Nuclear Energy and Politics
- Romney plans to "Revitalize nuclear power by equipping the NRC to approve new designs and to license approved reactor designs on approved sites within two years."

- Obama pushes for safe use of nuclear energy: "Obviously, all energy sources have their downside - I mean we saw that with the gulf spill last summer. But I do think it's important for us to think through constantly how can we improve nuclear technologies to deal with additional safety concerns that people have."


- Sustainability
- Hydroelectric plants don't pollute land, air, or water, using only flowing water for energy

- Environmental Impact
- Dams provide water control, irrigation, quality, and can help debris settle faster
- Facilities can add salmon runs and resting places for migrating birds

- Productivity Statistics

- Hydropower generates approximately 16% of global electricity
- Percentage of Undeveloped Hydropower
- North America 61%
- Latin America 71%
- Europe 47%
- Africa 92%
- Asia 80%
- Australasia/Oceania 80%

- 96% of the renewable energy in the United States is hydropower
- Low failure rates, low costs, reliable

- Pros:
- 100% renewable energy resource
- Consume least resources of any power source
- Minimal environmental impact
- Reliable

- Cons:
- Not meeting current global electricity needs
- Not likely to adapt to growing population

- Hydroelectric Power Politics
- Romney does not have any major interest in hydropower.
- Obama's U.S. Secretary of energy Stephen Chu states:
- "There's no one solution to the energy crisis, but hydropower is clearly part of the solution and represents a major opportunity to create more clean energy jobs."

Although our civilizations are heavily reliant on fossil fuels, a large-scale effort to transition into clean energy is the best plan for future generations.


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