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Consequences of Fossil

Fuel Use
Guiding Question: What problems are associated with fossil fuel use?

Explain how pollutants released by fossil fuels Reading Strategy As you read, draw a concept map about
damage health and the environment. the harmful effects of fossil fuels. Be sure to include all the blue
Describe the environmental and health effects of and green headings in your map.
mining and drilling.
Explain the implications of dependence on foreign Vocabulary acid drainage, energy conservation
nations for fossil fuels.
Explain why energy conservation is important.

Fighting to survive, the nine coal miners, trapped 73 meters

(240 feet) underground, could do only one thing to let the world know
that they were still alive. They tapped on an air pipe and hoped that some-
17.3 Lesson Plan Preview
one on the surface would hear the taps.
Differentiated Instruction
The accident that trapped the miners happened on July 24, 2002, in Advanced students summarize
Quecreek, Pennsylvania. The miners were working deep underground relevant content from the pre-
when a wall collapsed. The opening created by the collapse led to an vious chapter to help the class
abandoned mine filled with water. The bitterly cold water rushed into learn about fossil fuel pollution.
the miners work area. Within seconds, the area had flooded. The miners Inquiry Students observe a
demo modeling the effects of
were trapped in an air pocket and couldnt get out.
mountaintop removal.
Rescuers went to work as soon as they realized what had happened. At Real World Students create
first, they had no luck. Finally, a huge drill broke through into the miners posters about energy
area, and much-needed air could be pumped in. After three days under- conservation.
ground, the miners were finally rescued. One by one, all nine of them
were lifted to safety. Their families and friends, who had almost given up 17.3 RESOURCES
hope, began to celebrate. Scientific Method Lab, Identifying
Insulators Real Data Online Map
The Quecreek accident is a reminder that fossil fuels come with costs
It Online Lesson 17.3 Worksheets
as well as benefits. Workers risk their lives to obtain the fuels we need. Lesson 17.3 Assessment Chapter 17
And use of the fuels can cause damage. Overview Presentation

FOCUS Using a piece of note-
book paper and a pen, have each
student draw two simple pictures
that depict problems associated
with the use of fossil fuels. Have
students form pairs, and have each
pair discuss their drawings. Call on
volunteers to share their drawings
with the class.

FIGURE 13 Rescue! One of the

Quecreek miners is carried to safety.

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Real Data
Carbon Dioxide From Fossil Fuels Carbon Dioxide Emissions by Fossil Fuels
The combustion of fossil fuels releases carbon diox- 8
ide into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is the major 7 Total
greenhouse gas that is increasing in the atmosphere

Billion metric tons

6 Coal

of carbon/year
because of human activities. The graph shows how the 5 Natural gas
release of carbon dioxide by the burning of oil, coal, 4
and natural gas has changed since 1800. Study the
graph and then answer the questions.
1. Interpret Graphs What does the purple line on the
graph represent?
2. Relate Cause and Effect Around what year did 1800 1850 1900 1950 2000
the total emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil Year
fuels begin to go up dramatically? What do you Data from Marland, G., et al. 2006. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge
National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, TN.
think accounts for this dramatic change? (Hint:
Around that time, how did peoples lifestyles begin
4. Predict Do you think the overall trend shown
to change?)
on the graph will change? Explain your answer.
3. Analyze Data Which two fossil fuels release the
most carbon dioxide into the atmosphere?

Pollution From Fossil Fuels
Real Data
The burning of fossil fuels causes pollution that affects health
1. The total emissions of carbon diox-
and the environment.
ide from the burning of fossil fuels
from 1800 to the present.
2. Around 1950 when peoples When they are burned, fossil fuels release substances that contribute to
lifestyles began to change in ways climate change and cause pollution. In addition, the processes involved
that demanded more energy in obtaining and refining fuels can harm human health and the environ-
3. Coal and oil ment. Some of these effects are described below.
4. Answers will vary, but should show
understanding of the trend shown Releasing Greenhouse Gases All fossil fuels contain carbon.
on the graph. When fossil fuels burn, they release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
As you have learned, carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. Carbon diox-
ide produced by the combustion of fossil fuels warms the atmosphere
and drives changes in global climate. Because of its role in global climate
change, carbon dioxide pollution is becoming recognized as the greatest
environmental impact of fossil fuel use.

Air Pollution The burning of coal and oil releases sulfur dioxide and
nitrogen oxides, which contribute to industrial and photochemical smog
and cause acid deposition. However, catalytic converters have cut down
the release of pollutants by motor vehicles. To reduce pollution by power
plants, the U.S. government and industries are working to develop a coal-
fired power plant that does not release pollutants.

530 Lesson 3
Water Pollution Fossil fuels pollute water as well as air. For example,
some oil from nonpoint sources, such as industries, homes, and cars, runs
off from its sources. This oil in runoff can contaminate water in or on the
ground. Eventually, this runoff oil enters rivers and streams. From there, the Reading Checkpoint Fossil fuels
oil may be carried to the ocean. Huge oil spills from ships and platforms also pollute water and damage aquatic
can severely damage marine environments. This was the case with the Exxon environments.
Valdez spill in 1989. Oil from Alaskas North Slope had been piped to the
port of Valdez and loaded onto the ship. Leaving the port, the ship grounded, FIGURE 14 The Exxon Valdez and
Deepwater Horizon Oil Spills (a) Two
causing a huge oil spill. The spilled oil caused massive long-term environ- days after the Exxon Valdez spill began,
mental damage to Alaskas Prince William Sound. Twenty-one years later, the a smaller tanker tries to offload oil
Deepwater Horizon, an offshore drilling rig, exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. from the ship to prevent more oil from
The resulting oil spill will likely be more devastating than the Valdez spill. spilling into Prince William Sound.
(b) A man becomes covered with
oil while helping to clean a beach
Effects on Health Numerous health risks are associated with fossil fuels. in Alaska. (c) An explosion destroys
Mercury, for example, which is present in coal in trace amounts, is released the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, killing
from coal-fired power plants. Mercury can damage the central nervous 11 workers and allowing oil to spurt
system and the kidneys, and can cause severe nausea. Motor vehicles release directly from the sea floor into the Gulf
of Mexico. (d) Workers clean a brown
pollutants that irritate the nose, throat, and lungs. Gases such as hydrogen pelican at the Fort Jackson Wildlife
sulfide can evaporate from certain kinds of crude oil and irritate the eyes and Rehabilitation Center in Louisiana.
throat. Crude oil also often contains trace amounts of poisons such
as lead and arsenic. (a)
Reading  (d)
How do fossil fuels affect


Prince William Sound, 1989


Gulf of Mexico, 2010

Nonrenewable Energy 531

BIG QUESTION Damage Caused by Extracting Fuels
Can we depend on nonrenewable Mining and drilling for fuels can endanger people and change
energy resources for our energy ecosystems in harmful ways.
Perspective Read aloud the Big
In most cases, it isnt easy to remove fossil fuels from the ground. Tunnels
Question. Point out that many
people develop an answer to this often must be dug, and holes must be drilled. Expensive technology is
Big Question based solely on the needed, energy is required, and the process takes a long time. Jobs in
perspective of supply and de- mining and oil operations can be dangerous. And damage to the environ-
mand. Have students consider ment can result from the extraction of fossil fuels.
the Big Question from another
perspectivethe harmful effects of Dangers of Mining Underground coal mining today is one of our
extracting and using nonrenewable
resources such as fossil fuels. Ask societys most dangerous occupations. As the Quecreek accident and
students to write several sentences other mining accidents show, miners risk injury or death from collapsing
summarizing their response to the shafts and tunnels. In addition, miners risk their health by inhaling coal
Big Question from this perspective. dust, which can lead to respiratory diseases, including black lung disease.

Strip Mining and the Environment Strip mining can destroy

large areas of habitat and cause extensive soil erosion. Acid drainage
occurs when sulfide minerals in exposed rock surfaces react with oxygen
and rainwater to produce sulfuric acid. As the acid runs off, it removes
metals from the rocks, and both the acid and metals enter groundwater
and water bodies. In high concentrations, many of these metals are toxic
to living things. Acid drainage occurs through natural processes as well
as mining. However, it speeds up when mining exposes many new rock
surfaces at once. Regulations in the United States require mining com-
panies to restore land that has been strip mined. However, the effects are
still severe and last a long time.
Mountaintop removal can have an even greater impact than ordinary
strip mining. Tons of rock and soil are removed from the top of a moun-
tain. This material may accidentally slide downhill, or it may be deliber-
ately dumped downhill in order to dispose of it. The rock and soil may
ANSWERS destroy land habitats and clog waterways.
Reading Checkpoint Acid drainage Reading Describe the effects of acid drainage.
results in the removal of metals from Checkpoint
rocks, which in high concentrations
are harmful to living things.

FIGURE 15 Mountaintop Removal

Part of the summit of this mountain in
West Virginia has been blasted away to
get to a coal deposit.

532 Lesson 3
FIGURE 16 Oil Technology in the
Damage From Oil and Gas Extraction Developing an oil or gas Tundra A caribou wanders across
field involves much more than drilling. For example, roads must be built, a field near buildings used in the oil
industry near Prudhoe Bay in Alaska.
and housing for workers must be constructed. Workers build pipelines to
carry the fuel. These activities may harm plants and animals.
Prudhoe Bay Tundra vegetation at Prudhoe Bay still has not fully
recovered from temporary roads that have not been used in 30 years.
Experts do not agree on whether the regions caribou have been harmed.
Surveys show that the caribou population has increased since Prudhoe
Bay was developed. Other studies, however, show that female caribou and
their calves avoid all parts of the Prudhoe Bay oil complex.
Possible Impact on the Arctic Refuge To predict the ecological effects
of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, scientists have exam-
ined the effects in similar environments in Alaska. In addition, they have
conducted some experiments to determine what might happen. Based
on these studies, many scientists predict that wildlife and plants will be
damaged. Oil spills can harm plants, and sometimes plants may be buried
under gravel pits or roads. Roads can break up habitats. Other scientists,
however, think that drilling in the Arctic Refuge will not affect the envi-
ronment that much. For example, they point out that most drilling would
take place in the winter, when caribou are not in the area. They also note
that the technology has improved in the time since the Prudhoe Bay oil
fields were developed, and claim that development of the Arctic Refuge
would be more sensitive to the environment.

Nonrenewable Energy 533

Proven reserves
at end of 2008
(thousand million barrels)
Asia Pacific 42.0
North America 70.9
South America
and Central America 123.2
Africa 125.6
Europe and Eurasia 142.2
Middle East 754.1
National border

Data from British Petroleum. Statistical Review of World Energy 2009.

FIGURE 17 World Oil Distribution

The map shows the approximate oil Dependence on Foreign Sources
reserves, in thousand million barrels, in Since fossil fuels are unevenly distributed in the world, many
different regions of the world.
nations need to depend on foreign sources.

Fossil fuels are not evenly distributed worldwide, as shown in Figure 17.
Some nations have more deposits of a fossil fuel than others. The United
States, for example, has extensive coal resources. However, Middle

Map it Eastern nations such as Saudi Arabia and Iran have far more crude oil
reserves than does the United States. Almost all our modern technology
and services depend in some way on fossil fuels. This means that a nation
Imports and Exports can suffer when its supplies become unavailable or very costly.
Study the map in Figure 17 and
answer the questions. Disadvantages of Foreign Dependence Nations that lack
1. Interpret Maps Which region adequate fossil fuels are especially at risk. For instance, Germany, France,
of the world has the least oil? South Korea, and Japan consume far more energy than they produce.
Approximately how much oil Therefore, nations such as these rely almost entirely on fuel imports for
can be found in this part of the their economic well-being. In recent years, the United States has relied
world? more and more on foreign energy. Today the United States imports two
thirds of its crude oil. Such reliance means that seller nations can control
2. Interpret Maps How do the oil
energy prices. They can force buyer nations to pay more and more as sup-
reserves in North America
plies of fossil fuels decrease.
compare to those in the rest of
the world? Reducing Dependence on Foreign Oil The United States govern-
3. Infer Which part of the world ment has enacted policies to reduce dependence on oil from some foreign
probably exports the most oil to nations. One policy calls for developing additional resources within the
other areas? United States, such as some of those in Alaska.

534 Lesson 3
In addition, the United States has diversified its sources of petroleum.
It now receives much of its petroleum from nations other than those in
the Middle East. For example, we now import a lot of oil from Canada,
Mexico, Venezuela, and Nigeria. Another way to reduce dependence on
foreign oil is to develop renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind
power. You will learn more about renewable energy in the next chapter.

Energy Conservation
To save fossil fuels and limit the damage they cause, we need to
conserve energy.

We want supplies of fossil fuels to last as long as possible, and one way
to accomplish that is to reduce our use of them. In addition, if we are
less dependent on fossil fuels, we can prevent some of the environmental
damage they do. Energy conservation is the practice of reducing energy
use to meet those goals.
FIGURE 18 Gas Guzzlers Huge
Conservation and Transportation Transportation accounts for recreational vehicles use a lot of gas,
increasing our need for oil.
two thirds of oil use in the United States. One way to conserve energy
is to design and sell motor vehicles that use less gasoline. In addition, if
taxes on gasoline were increased, gasoline would become more expen-
sive, and people would then have a powerful reason to conserve gasoline.
Drivers in many European nations pay much higher gasoline taxes than
do drivers in the United States. ANSWERS
Many critics of oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
point out that our cars and trucks waste huge amounts of oil. They argue Map It
that a small amount of conservation would save the nation far more oil 1. Asia Pacific; 42.0 thousand million
than it could obtain from the oil deposits in the Arctic Refuge.
2. North America has smaller re-
serves than anywhere except Asia
Personal Choices Individual people can make choices that save
energy. In addition to driving less, we can take other actions. For exam-
3. M iddle East
ple, we can turn lights off in rooms that arent being used. By turning
Lesson 3 Assessment For answers
down thermostats, we can reduce the energy needed to heat homes. We to the Lesson 3 Assessment, see page
can buy appliances that conserve energy. All these actions save people A27 at the back of the book.
money and reduce fossil fuel use.

1. Explain Describe how oil in runoff from a city 4. Apply Concepts What effect might an increase in
street might eventually reach the ocean. gasoline taxes have on the way people get to work?
2. Infer U.S. government regulations require compa- Explain your answer.
nies to restore land after strip mining. In spite of 5. You have been elected
these regulations, why does strip mining still have a United States Senator from Alaska. The other sena-
severe impact on the environment? tor from Alaska has just proposed a law that would
3. Relate Cause and Effect Why can it be a disad- open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil
vantage for a nation to depend on foreign oil? drilling. Would you vote in favor of this law? Why
or why not?

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