All three major fossil fuels (oil, natural gas and coal) were made over 300 million years ago (10+8) and contain elements like Carbon and Hydrogen (10-10). The world’s demand for energy may max out all the coal deposits though there are deposits around the world. The gathering and burning of coal has also been demonstrated to cause a major impact on the environment (10+7) – which is why there has been a growing interest in alternative sources of energy.
Some countries like Australia (10+3) are starting to look into renewable sources of energy like solar power. (10+12) “Australia depends on coal to supply about 87 percent of its electricity demand, which gives it one of the highest per capita rates of greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Coal is also a major export, and at any given moment a flotilla of ships sits off the Queensland coast waiting to ferry the fuel to China and other overseas markets.” In April, it was announced that coal will no longer be ‘king’ in Australia. “Prime Minister Julia Gillard… appeared at giant coal-fired power plant to announce that the Southern Hemisphere’s largest solar project would be built in Queensland.” What is different is that rather than having the new 44 Megawatt solar thermal project replace the 750 megawatt coal-power plant, it will help it.
As consumption of energy grows, planning ahead regionally (10+3) and globally (10+7) has been inherently difficult since it was found that even within one country like the United States different parts used different amounts of electricity. Careful analysis of energy usage at different powers of 10 from the home (10+1) to the cities (10+3) to the countries (10+4) to the continents (10+5) has created a framework which reveals what energy needs have to be planned for. In addition, the growing awareness of the impact of the global energy needs has led many individuals (100) to consider the planet (10+7) when making the decision of whether to leave a light on, or turn it off.