Fossil fuels based on fossil raw materials such as crude oil, natural gas and coal has been crucial for the evolution of mankind in the so-called polymer age. Fossil raw materials satisfy our energy needs and enrich our lives with wide range of various chemicals. Approximately one third of fossil based fuels are used for electricity, one third is used for transportation and one third is used for heating. The wide success of fossil fuels is largely based on the vast availability of the respective raw material under the earth surface, its favorable properties such as low density and relative cheapness to process the raw materials. Nowadays all infrastructure is built around mining, processing, transporting and using fossil raw materials to generate energy of any kind.
Humankind has to reduce the usage of fossil fuels and try to find alternative energy sources for several reasons. On the one hand, world population grows significantly. On a yearly basis approximately the size of population of Germany (around 80 million people) is added to the world population. Fossil reserves and resources are not eternal. It took eons to create the amount of fossil raw materials we are currently using. Therefore they cannot be considered renewable. This will lead to a significant price increase of fossil fuels in the near to mid-term future. But the more prominent problem is the effect of burning fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide (“CO2”) emissions from fossil fuels are considered to contribute significantly to climate change causing increase of environmental disasters, e.g. flooding, hurricanes, tsunamis, forest burning.
Effect of increased Carbon Dioxide on our Climate
CO2 is responsible for about 66% of the total radiative forcing from GHG since pre-industrial time. CO2 emissions, mainly from burning of fossil fuels and cement production, have increased significantly over the last 100 years. The CO2 emission increase is accompanied with an increase in Temperature. According to the World Meteorological Organization (“WMO”) report on The Global Climate in 2015-2019 the average temperature has increased by 1.1°C since the pre-industrial period, leading to a so-called “hockey-stick” effect. Even the global average sea-surface is already 0.8°C above pre-industrial temperature leading to catastrophic weather conditions.
Natural Disaster as Consequence
Among the most prominent examples or climate change and destruction forces of human beings are the fires in Brazilian Amazonas in 2019. More than 100’000 fires were recorded. This number is with 60% significantly higher than last year and the highest ever recorded in the Brazilian Amazonas. Another example of the devastating effects of climate change is the increased number of flooding in the US. In the lower Mississippi Delta the rural area of Yazoo has been flooded for more than five month. Around 2’225 square meters of land have been under water. This is a 125 year record in respect to flooding in this area. Among all the weather dependent hazard events the costliest one was Hurricane Harvey in 2017, which led to an estimated economic loss of more than USD 125 billion. In autumn 2019 hurricane Lorenzo reached CAT5 or 257 km/h. This is the second hurricane, after hurricane Dorian which destroyed parts of Bahamas, from the Atlantic reaching CAT5