The fossil fuels, it seems highly unlikely

The United States of America is
currently facing an inconvenient truth: the use of fossil fuels is not
sustainable, and in the process of using fossil fuels, the environment is
suffering on a colossal scale. Fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas, and coal are
declining at an alarming rate and America is one of the largest users of these
precious energy sources. In this new generation of clean, renewable energy, it
is nigh time for America to make plans to lessen its dependence on fossil
fuels. However, this is much easier said than done. As much of America’s
infrastructure and citizenship has become accustomed to the luxuries of fossil
fuels, it seems highly unlikely that everyone will get on board with plans to
move away from such limited resources. We as a society have become comfortable
with our current way of life, and although alternative energies would provide
much of the same comfort, the initial transition from fossil fuels to
alternative energies is likely to be met with resistance and frustration. Still,
it is something that we as a nation must come together and discuss or else reap
the consequences of an unsustainable lifestyle. While there exists a myriad of
ways for America to take on this tall task, two solutions stand out as the most
prominent; America should make the switch to solar energy for many of its
industries and products and America should begin to invest more heavily into
nuclear power. This paper will discuss America’s dependence on fossil fuels,
and then analyze the two above solutions for validity.

            As
it stands now, America’s dependence on fossil fuels is at an all-time high.

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Fossil fuels are used in nearly every aspect of industry and are even used on
an everyday basis by nearly every individual citizen. Fossil fuels are
essentially a way of life for Americans, and unfortunately, that way of life is
simply not sustainable. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration
(2012), “While the United States produced a record 78 quadrillion Btu (quads)
of energy in 2011, it consumed more than 97 quads of energy in various forms.

Nonrenewable fossil fuels made up more than four-fifths of U.S. energy
consumption” (p. 1). As can be observed, America’s use of energy far exceeds
its production value, and even more significant is the fact that fossil fuel
usage exceeds the amount of energy produced. So, America is actively using more
than it is making, and according to the fundamental elements of economics, this
kind of behavior is unsustainable. And so, this level of consumption begs for the
United States of America to either cut back on what it consumes and how much it
consumes or else look elsewhere in regards to energy sources that will be able
to provide for the amount of consumption that Americans are used to.

            One
way in which to solve this energy crisis is to invest, develop, and market
renewable energy to the masses. Perhaps the biggest innovation in power
technology that has progressed quite rapidly over the past decade is solar
energy. By harnessing the natural, renewable, and, for all intents and
purposes, infinite power of the sun, industries and individuals can adapt their
lifestyles to a cleaner, more environmentally friendly method of power
consumption. According to Christopher Helman (2014), “in 2012 there were 3.5
million megawatthours of electricity generated by solar photovoltaic panels. In
2013 that more than doubled to 8.3 million Mwh…Solar is closing in on price
parity with the likes of coal – with full-cycle, unsubsidized costs of about 13
cents per kilowatthour, versus 12 cents for advanced coal plants” (p. 1). It is
encouraging that America has drastically increased its production of solar
power, and even more encouraging that the production of solar power is nearly
equivalent in price to the production of coal power. However, the solar power
market needs to significantly increase in size so that entire industries are
based around it. Only then will the trend catch on with individual citizens.

Examples of a larger solar power industry include the mass production of solar
powered cars, including solar panels in the construction of houses, and using
the sun’s energy in everyday household appliances. And these are just some of
the more mainstream uses of solar power. Basically, anywhere that electricity
is produced or used, solar power can step in and provide the same energy for a
comparable or even cheaper cost, while simultaneously ridding America of fossil
fuel use. When the industries make a conscious switch to solar power, society
will inevitably follow. This is one way in which America can lessen its
dependence on fossil fuels.

            Another
way in which to lessen America’s dependence on fossil fuels is to consider
investing heavily into nuclear power. Nuclear power often receives a bad
reputation based on hearsay and dubious studies. However, the truth is that
nuclear energy, while having its faults, possesses far more positive
connotations than fossil fuels. According to Staffan A. Qvist and Barry W.

Brook (2015), “The operation of a nuclear reactor does not emit greenhouse
gases or other forms of particulate air pollution, and it is one of the few
base-load alternatives to fossil energy sources currently available that has
been proven by historical experience to be able to be significantly expanded
and scaled up” (p. 2). Making the switch to nuclear power would be more
appropriate on an industry-wide scale as opposed to an individual, consumer
wide level, however, the effects of the switch would still be significantly
large. As industries moved away from fossil fuels to nuclear energy, the
environment would see an almost immediate positive effect as harmful fumes and
smoke would no longer be emitted in to the air at as large of quantities that
they are now. However, as nuclear energy is a volatile substance, the
implementation would need to be handled in an extremely regulated way.

According to Qvist and Brook (2015), “Two features seen in all relatively
rapidly expanding and successful nuclear programs were strong government
involvement and support as well as some measure of technology standardization”
(p. 5). In order for America to make the switch to nuclear power, the
government would have to provide broad oversight for the safety of industry
workers and the environment as a whole. Even though the government would have
to be heavily involved, the progress America could make in its effort to lessen
its dependence on fossil fuels would greatly outweigh the negative aspects of
this solution. And so, nuclear energy is an alternative form of energy that has
already been used for decades, but can be significantly scaled up to take the
place of fossil fuels in an effort to reduce America’s dependence on such
fossil fuels.

            The
fossil fuel dependence that America is currently (and has historically) relying
on is unhealthy for the environment and the individual citizen. The consumption
of fossil fuels is simply unsustainable in both the short and long terms. Fossil
fuels are nonrenewable, when they are burned they harm the environment, and as
consumption ramps up, so too does price. In order to lessen its dependence on
fossil fuels, America can look to two forms of alternative energy. The first
form of alternative energy that should be heavily researched and promoted is
solar energy. As it stands, America has been increasing upon its production and
consumption of solar energy, but more needs to be done to further implement it
into the American infrastructure. Solar energy is the only true form of
infinite energy and luckily enough, America spans such a large geographic area
that solar panel farms can be constructed in the vast deserts that make up the
Midwest, meaning that solar farms in one small area of the country can help
sustain energy use throughout the rest of the nation. The other form of
alternative energy that is viable in regards to replacing fossil fuels is
nuclear power. Nuclear power is a proven method of relying less on fossil
fuels, and although it would require a large amount of government regulation,
its benefits far exceed the benefits of fossil fuels. These are two viable
solutions to America’s fossil fuel dependence problem and they should be
thoroughly considered and experimented with in order to implement them into
society and industry.