The majority of the world’s energy comes from fossil fuels – primarily coal, oil, and natural gas. All three were formed on Earth about 360 million years ago during the Carboniferous Period and long before the age of the dinosaurs.
We rely on fossil fuels for much more than gasoline to power our cars.
For example, tremendous amounts of oil are required to produce all plastics, all computers and high tech devices. According to the American Chemical Society, it takes 3.5 pounds of fossil fuels to make a single 32 megabyte DRAM computer chip, and the construction of a single desktop computer consumes ten times its weight in fossil fuels.
Our food is produced by high-tech, oil-powered industrial methods of agriculture, and in the US each piece of food travels about 1,500 miles before it reaches the grocery store. Pesticides are made from oil, and commercial fertilizers are made from ammonia, which is made from natural gas. Fossil fuels are needed to make many medical devices and supplies such as life-support systems, anesthesia bags, catheters, dishes, drains, gloves, heart valves, needles, syringes, and tubes.
There is a limited supply of fossil fuels and they are nonrenewable. Today, we are using fossil fuels faster than we are finding them. In fact, the Oil Depletion Analysis Center (ODAC) predicts that in the near future the demand for fossil fuels will far exceed the Earth’s supply.
Could nanotechnology provide the answers?