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Effects of Fossil Fuel Dependence on the US

The US is the top user of oil but while it ranks third in the world in terms of population at 303,824,640, it is also one the biggest land masses in the world with a land area of 9,161,923 square meters (CIA). Even as the US population is high, the US land area is also very large area making it reasonable for them to have a high population rate. However, despite the high population count, the US falls in terms of population density at only 174th with 33. 2 people per square meter (World Sites Atlas, 2008).

According to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy (2008), the US since 2007 is the number consumer of oil and its consumption rate is steadily rising which reached 20,698 thousand barrels daily in 2007 from 19,621 thousand barrels daily in 1997. On a side note, the United States does not produce that much oil. It produced only 311. 5 million tonnes in 2007. It consumes 23. 9 percent of the world’s oil. It also only accounts for 2. 4 percent of the world’s remaining oil reserves. This could not satisfy the country’s demand for oil.

Consequently, the US, just like any other country is being forced to buy oil from Middle Eastern countries that have an abundant supply of oil. The United State’s dependence on foreign oil may have certain economic ramifications. In comparison however, other more populated countries such as China and India consume less oil than the United States. In 2007, China consumed only 7,855 thousand barrels of oil daily while India consumed only 2,748 thousand barrels daily on the same year (Beyond Petroleum, 2008).

Over the years, the price of oil has increased and so did the price of food as farmers suffer from increased cost of tractor fuel, farm chemicals and transport of goods. According to Jacques Diouf, these two elements combined make up a “very serious social crisis” that could result in certain economic repercussions. The United States also consumes so much oil because of vehicles. The number of miles that the American people drive has grown three times since the start of 1980. It has also grown twice as much as the number of vehicle registrations.

According to the US Energy Administration, the total miles driven by Americans will still increase by 59 percent in 2030 (Steffen, 2008). This denotes that the United States uses up more and more oil for transportation and this result in greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), mankind’s dependence on fossil fuels is the one to blame for global warming (O’Driscoll & Vergano, 2007). Power generation is also a major consumer of fossil fuels such as coal and oil and is also a major contributor of carbon dioxide.

The United States relies on electricity to meet a significant portion of its energy demands, especially for lighting, electric motors, heating, and air conditioning. Electricity generators consumed 35 percent of U. S. energy from fossil fuels and emitted 40 percent of the CO2 from fossil fuel combustion in 2002. (EPA) Additionally, reliance on fossil fuels for energy also leads to pollution. Many National Parks in the United States are often more polluted than urban areas. Fossil fuel power plants, vehicles and industrial facilities are being blamed for this.

The air pollution is so bad that it even impairs visibility (Lazaroff, 2002). Population is not the real factor why the United States is the top consumer of fossil fuels. It is because of the American lifestyle that this is happening. If not addressed properly, this could lead to an economic crisis. It also aggravates global warming as well as pollution. Thus, eliminating dependence is the way to go. One way of doing this is patronizing renewable energy sources.


Beyond Petroleum. (2008).BP Statistical Review of World Energy. Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook: United States. Retrieved December 17, 2008, from https://www. cia. gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/print/us. html Environment Protection Agency (EPA). ES-24 Inventory of U. S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2002. Lazaroff, C. (2002, September 24). Fossil Fuel Burning Blamed for U. S. Parks Air Pollution. Common Dreams News Center. Retrieved December 17, 2008, from http://www. commondreams. org/headlines02/0924-08.

htm O’Driscoll, P. & Vergano, D. (2007, March 1). Fossil fuels are to blame, world scientists conclude. USA Today. Retrieved December 17, 2008, from http://www. usatoday. com/tech/science/2007-01-30-ipcc-report_x. htm Steffen, A. (2008, January 23). My Other Car is a Bright Green City. World Changing. Retrieved December 17, 2008, from http://www. worldchanging. com/archives/007800. html World Sites Atlas. (2008). United States: People. Retrieved December 17, 2008, from http://www. sitesatlas. com/Maps/Factbook/Pop/us. html

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