Petroleo e gas

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DOI: 10.1002/asia.201000797

The Legacy of Fossil Fuels**
Nicola Armaroli*[a] and Vincenzo Balzani*[b]


 2011 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim

Chem. Asian J. 2011, 6, 768 – 784

Abstract: Currently, over 80 % of the energy used by mankind comes from fossil fuels. Harnessing coal, oil and gas, the energy resources contained in the store of our spaceship, Earth,has prompted a dramatic expansion in energy use and a substantial improvement in the quality of life of billions of individuals in some regions of the world. Powering our civilization with fossil fuels has been very convenient, but now we know that it entails severe consequences. We treat fossil fuels as a resource that anyone anywhere can extract and use in any fashion, and Earths atmosphere,soil and oceans as a dump for their waste products, including more than 30 Gt/y of carbon dioxide. At present, environmental legacy rather than consistence of exploitable reserves, is the most dramatic problem posed by the relentless increase of fossil fuel global demand. Harmful effects on the environment and human health, usually not incorporated into the pricing of fossil fuels, includeimmediate and short-term impacts related

to their discovery, extraction, transportation, distribution, and burning as well as climate change that are spread over time to future generations or over space to the entire planet. In this essay, several aspects of the fossil fuel legacy are discussed, such as alteration of the carbon cycle, carbon dioxide rise and its measurement, greenhouse effect,anthropogenic climate change, air pollution and human health, geoengineering proposals, land and water degradation, economic problems, indirect effects on the society, and the urgent need of regulatory efforts and related actions to promote a gradual transition out of the fossil fuel era. While manufacturing sustainable solar fuels appears to be a longer-time perspective, alternatives energy sourcesalready exist that have the potential to replace fossil fuels as feedstocks for electricity production. Keywords: air pollution · carbon · fossil fuels · green chemistry · sustainable chemistry

“Your grandchildren will likely find it incredible, or even sinful, that you burned up a gallon of gasoline to fetch a pack of cigarettes.” Paul MacCready

1. The Energy Dark Sides
1.1. Inequalities andExternalities The feature that distinguishes modern industrial society from all previous epochs is the exploitation of fossil fuel energy. Currently over 80 % of the energy used by mankind comes from fossil fuels. Harnessing coal, oil and gas, the energy resources contained in the store of our spaceship Earth, has prompted a dramatic expansion in energy use.[1] There is no doubt that the massiveexploitation of fossil fuel resources has been the main single factor causing the spectacular improvement of the quality of life of millions of people on Earth over the last decades. However, these lucky individuals and communities constitute a minority of the global population.[1]
[a] Dr. N. Armaroli Molecular Photoscience Group Istituto per la Sintesi Organica e la Fotoreattività ConsiglioNazionale delle Ricerche via Gobetti 101, 40129 Bologna (Italy) Fax: (+ 39) 051-639-9844 E-mail: [b] Prof. Dr. V. Balzani Dipartimento di Chimica “G. Ciamician” Università di Bologna Via Selmi 2, 40126 Bologna (Italy) Fax: (+ 39) 051-2099543 E-mail: [**] This article is an adapted version of a chapter of the book “Energy for a sustainable world. From theoil age to a sun powered future.” Wiley-VCH, 2011.

Furthermore, we should not forget that the ever increasing exploitation of coal, oil, and gas is a gigantic conversion of resources placed in the lithosphere into waste products released into the biosphere, with various effects on the environment and human health. Such effects are typically not integrated into the pricing of a given energy...
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