Nowadays the problem of environmental pollution is becoming more and more discussed not only in the scientific community but also in a mass society. These problems and their possible solutions are raised for discussion at the UN's councils. These actions help to increase attention to the relevance of this topic.
Fuel is one of the main sources of environmental pollution, as well as some other fossils. Besides, that fuel and its derivatives pollute the earth externally: deterioration the purity of air and water, which leads to undesirable climatic changes like warming and other consequences, but the extraction of oil and other minerals also depletes the land from within, which reduces world reserves.
Petroleum and its products are one of the most prevalent types of fuel and also the most used in the whole world. In the modern time, petroleum is not only a necessary product for the work of key industries and infrastructures but also a regulator of the economy. Petroleum occupies a leading place in the world fuel and energy economy. Therefore, some countries, for which petroleum is the basis of the economy, do not seek to reduce the amount of oil produced or switch to alternative sources, but rather increases the amount of production.
Frequent news about new accidents on oil platforms or oil tankers, and about how much they are harmful to the environment: flora and fauna, marine ecosystem, etc. All these factors make us think more and more about whether the extraction of this type of fuel is justifiable with such a volume of pollution, and how the transition to alternative sources will be able to rectify the situation.
Petroleum, as other raw-material types of oil, adversely affects the ecology. Despite the fact that petroleum and its derivatives are cleaner than coal and some other types of fuel it still causes great damage to the environment. There is not only one way how petroleum contaminates the surrounding environment, furthermore, the extent of damage depends on the stage of petroleum usage. There are three common stages which include oil-producing techniques: oil production, oil processing, and oil exploitation, consequently reasons and outcomes of all oil usage stages could different and incomparable, but by and large the overall damage caused by oil usage is considerable.
Oil production stage includes locating the oil, drilling for it and extraction of it. Perhaps these three sub-stages seem environmentally friendly, but in actual fact, it inflicts no less damage than caused by other stages. Locating the oil contains few steps: usage of magnetic and seismic data and then sending shock waves to the ocean floor . At first glance, it seems innocuous, but it has a negative impact on the marine environment. For example, some of the marine animals such as whales and dolphins are exceptionally sensitive to the magnetic waves so they can make them disoriented which can let to rupture of migration path and even mass beaching .
The following two sub-stages, drilling for oil and extraction of it, have a risk of the oil spill which has one of the most adverse effects and can lead to ecological disaster. The oil spill is the release of liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment, mostly into marine areas such seas and the ocean which caused by human imprudence in the usage of oil and petroleum products. The possible consequences of oil spill might be mass impairment of underwater environment, destroying marine animals’ food which leading to their mass death . The main drawback of the oil slick is that covered on surface oil prevents the access to oxygen in the water .
The ruinous consequences of the oil spill and oil slick might be considered by the example of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion, which was recognized as the largest accidental marine oil spill in the world, and the largest environmental disaster in U. S. history . It caused a risk to the disappearance of some animals such as the green turtle, gulls, pelicans, blue herons and etc. . The possible reasons for their disappearance are that Deepwater Horizon oil well contained approximately 40 % of methane which is above than if compared it with typical oil well containing about 5 % of methane . A 2012 conducted study showed that the variety of organisms in the affected by oil areas had dropped dramatically since the oil spill . So the consequences of mostly oil spill are detrimental to the environment and the recovery of flora and fauna takes many years.
The environmental impact of oil processing and oil exploitation might be considered together because they have one common feature, and is that this both stages emit carbon dioxide (CO2) in large volume. But the ways how factories can pollute the environment are different. In most cases, the factories emit all of this injurious chemical compound not only to the atmosphere but also into soil and groundwater. Pollution of soils and groundwater with oil and its by-products causes severe, sometimes irreversible damage to natural ecosystems. Of all types of oil pollution, groundwater pollution is the most dangerous, because toxic substances can be transported over long distances and penetrate into the surface water . The use of petroleum as a fuel poses no less a threat to the environment. The combustion of fuel is emitted to the atmosphere same products as oil processing plants emitted, but the feature of this emissions is that they emitted by cars, airplanes, and others facilities which are used in the whole world including urban and rural areas which are full of various flora and fauna, so the emission which produced by using oil as fuel has great coverage, because cars and airplanes, in contrast to factories, which remain in one place outside the city, are moving and their emissions can be released everywhere.
Taking into account all of the aforesaid negative environmental impacts of production and usage of petroleum, the question about a replacement of oil fuel with alternative sources becomes more actual every day. The possible replacement will decrease the volume of CO2 and others emissions, risks of oil spills, and increase or stabilize the bio-variety. There are several types of alternative energy sources: hydro energy, nuclear energy, wind energy, solar energy, and hydrogen . Most of the alternative energy sources are renewable, and despite the fact that others energy source as nuclear and hydrogen are not renewable, their reserves are boundless, so the problem of resource depletion does not threaten them . But the main advantage of using alternative energy is that they are ecologically friendly and do not harm the environment. To date, some types of alternative energy sources are actively used along with oil and coal . An example would be hydroelectricity. By the report of REN , in 2015 the amount of generated hydroelectricity was 16.6 % of the world's total electricity and 70 % of all renewable electricity. The advantages of this way of energy producing are that hydroelectricity station does not produce any direct waste, and do not consume water specifically in producing energy, and it has not any by-products . Besides hydropower, the perspectives of nuclear energy promptly increase. By the IAEA report , in 2014 there are 449 nuclear power plants operating in 31 countries.
After reviewing the analyzing of secondary sources I reached a conclusion that the oil producing and petroleum exploitation adversely affects the environment. The possible oil spill and oil slick can lead to the mass death of marine mammals and amphibians. Also, the usage petroleum as a fuel is the reason for carbon dioxide emissions which lead to the greenhouse effect and global warming. Despite this, the replacement of oil and petroleum to the alternative energy sources such as solar energy, hydroelectricity can decrease the level of pollution and make the energy industry environmentally friendly.
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