Energy is defined as, a fundamental entity of nature, regarded as the capacity for performing work (“The Merriam-Webster Dictionary”). Energy can come in many forms from many sources. Whether it being energy kinetic (Ek=12MV2), potential (Ep=MGH), electric(Eel= kQ1Q2d), or magnetic (U=B2/2μ⌑) they all share the same common goal of giving energy and because of the physics law known as the conservation of energy. It states that “energy is neither lost nor destroyed, yet it is created or converted into another form” as proven by Albert Einstein’s famous equatione=mc2. This knowledge of physics has allowed engineers to convert energy into many sources that power economies. Sources ranging from wind power, solar power, hydro power, biomass power and etc. One of the most widely used forms of energy is fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are relatively easy to use when generating energy because they only require a simple direct combustion. Practically meaning it is ready to go as soon as it is withdrawn from earth’s surface. This saves energy companies money in avoiding costs for converting fuels into their main form. Fossil fuels are also one of the best performing sources of energy because they allow many tasks to be completed quickly.
One example is an electric car drag racing a muscle car, the muscle car would be able to perform a better time in a quarter mile because it uses an engine powered by fossil fuels as opposed to a car powered by a battery. Another example is when Jeremy Clarkson from BBC’s show Top Gear used a 6.2 liter V8 Corvette engine to power a food blender. Obviously the engine powered blender has more energy than any blender that uses electricity. The only downside to fossil fuels is that their impact on the environment is tremendous. Excavation from the ground alters the environment and their combustion leads to a great deal of air pollution. This very same air pollution has caused a hole in earth’s ozone layer, much like a lid candle burning through a poster, giving rise to global warming and causing concerns on geologists and a lot of earth friendly organizations worldwide. Paul Thompson creator and editor of wolf at the door reported that America is the world’s number one annual consumer of foreign oil. Not only does America use all the oil produced on the homeland, but there is always a shortage for oil annually. This shortage accounts for the buying program of foreign oil and costs American tax payers billions in annual expenses, creating negative numbers on our annual GDP.
Generally speaking almost every person in America, weather it being mom, dad, or even the youngest child going to high school seems to have a car. America indeed is a fast paste economy that demands a lot of energy to execute daily tasks. In response to this, the Obama administration has set new EPA standards for the automotive companies to meet by providing fuel efficient vehicles that will have the capacity to drive 54.4mpg by the year 2025. This will also help the economy grow as president Obama stated, “These fuel standards represent the single most important step we’ve ever taken to reduce our dependence on foreign oil… This historic agreement builds on the progress we’ve already made to save families money at the pump and cut our oil consumption. By the middle of the next decade our cars will get nearly 55 miles per gallon, almost double what they get today. It’ll strengthen our nation’s energy security, it’s good for middle class families and it will help create an economy built to last.” However, just because our nation is now less dependent on foreign oil it does not mean that our usage of fossil fuels had gone down.
The alternative to meet the demand is by using other sources of energy like biofuels. This only adds another great reason as to why biofuels are important because in the long run biofuels will help our nation financial economy while also providing a much better cleaner environment. According to the president’s staff this will save the consumers $1.7 trillion annually and reduce our oil consumption by 12 billion barrels. This also provides a great step for our economy to grow, yet this also means that the United States will now depend on most of its own oil to meet the annual demands. The alternative solution to meet any shortage is by going green and using biofuels. Biofuels are a great alternative because not only are they a renewable energy source, but they provide less air pollution then fossil fuels. A CNN article reported a study conducted by researches that life expectancy in northern China has cut down by five and a half years on average per person due to the server air pollution caused by coal boilers. The argument however is that producing biofuels is expensive because it consists of converting organic material into the usable fuel consumers need. Even though biofuels are more expensive by the gallon then fossil fuels, the fact still stands that biofuels are less dangerous to the environment then fossil fuels.
For one dollar more on a biofuel gallon, the price is worth having a cleaner environment plus avoiding the life expectancy being reduced like China. However what exactly are biofuels? According to Alternative Energy: biofuels are produced from living organisms or from metabolic by-products (organic or food waste products). In order to be considered a biofuel the fuel must contain over 80 percent renewable materials. It is originally derived from the photosynthesis process and can therefore often be referred to as a solar energy source. As Alternative Energy states, unlike fossil fuels, biofuels can in fact be produced by waste products making it another excellent reason to being an alternative to fossil fuels. For the most part biofuels have always existed since cars where first born. During the 20th century Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor company, first wanted to power his vehicles with biofuels. However, this approach was never really considered an option since oil and gas prices where so cheap then. On top of that people did not want to use biofuels for their vehicles because they would much rather use the crops for feeding societies. Plus on a business point of view it is more cost efficient to go with fossil fuels. Although after all these years people can’t really say this argument anymore.
Discoveries of huge petroleum deposits have in fact kept gasoline and diesel cheap for decades, making biofuels largely forgotten. However, with the recent rise in oil prices, along with growing concern about global warming caused by carbon dioxide emissions, biofuels have been regaining popularity. One major drawback of biofuels in America is that they cause a significant rise in food prices because most farms on U.S. soil are harvesting corn for biofuel production then for food consumption. Biofuel production has increased in recent years. Some commodities like maize (corn), sugar cane or vegetable oil can be used either as food, feed, or to make biofuels. For example, since 2006, a portion of land that was also used to grow other crops in the United States is now used to grow corn for biofuels, and a larger share of corn is destined to ethanol production, reaching 25% in 2007.
This causes corn to be on a short supply and is affected with higher prices for not meeting the demands for household food consumption. The dilemma regarding the risk of diverting farmland or crops for biofuels production has caused a food vs. fuel debate at a global scale. There is disagreement about how significant the issue is, what is causing it, and what can or should be done about it. Indeed this is a major debate that exists on the extent to which biofuels policies are contributing to high agricultural prices levels. However once again, even though biofuels are more expensive by the gallon then fossil fuels, the fact still stands that biofuels are less dangerous to the environment then fossil fuels, a price worth paying when considering the environmental benefits. The Government also encourages this by providing great incentives for those who contribute to harvesting bio products for biofuel production and tax cuts to those who use biofuels.
The US government provides funding to those who qualify to producing biofuels and in return buys them at a great price. This is one example of the tax cuts/incentives the government provides as published by the Department of Energy: “Fueling equipment for natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas (propane), electricity, E85, or diesel fuel blends containing a minimum of 20% biodiesel installed between January 1, 2006, and December 31, 2013, is eligible for a tax credit of 30% of the cost, not to exceed $30,000.” Another thing to add is that Fueling station owners who install qualified equipment at multiple sites are allowed to use the credit towards each location. Apparently consumers who purchased qualified residential fueling equipment prior to December 31, 2013, may receive a tax credit of up to $1,000. As for the unused credits they actually qualify as general business tax credits, as defined by the Internal Revenue Service, and they may be carried backward one year and carried forward 20 years.
For the most part biofuels look like a great solution. However this is where the irony of everything comes about. Cars are a major source of atmospheric carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas that causes global warming, yet since plants absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, crops grown for biofuels should suck up about as much carbon dioxide as it comes out of the tailpipes of cars that burn these fuels. And unlike underground oil reserves, biofuels are a renewable resource since we can always grow more crops to turn into fuel. This creates a dogma since the world will have to balance out the amount of biofuels being produced with the bi products of fossil fuels. Almost reaching equilibrium in some way, but for now the conclusion still stands that we must definitely use biofuels as another source and balance out with fossil fuels.
Overall as times progressives things must change (Writing Arguments 436) and humans must find alternatives too many solutions. One task cannot be done the same way forever, eventually change must come. Older generations might be skeptical about moving towards another form of doing things, but if you are born at a certain date’ then you are imbued with a certain suite of behaviors (Writing Arguments 422). This concept has led me to think that in future generation’s humans will be one step closer to finding the ultimate solution to energy by discovering free energy via magnetic or thermal. As for now one step towards using biofuels will help us reach that goal of becoming a type one civilization.
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