Oil spills are destructive to vegitation. Image credit africanewscircle.com

Oil spills are destructive to vegetation. Image credit africanewscircle.com

ZIMSEC O Level Combined Science Notes: Social and economic factors to consider when using fuels

  • The extraction and consumption of fuels has led to a lot of problems in recent years
  • Problems include:
  • Pollution which includes
  • Land pollution as oil is spilled during drilling, extraction and transportation
  • Sea pollution as oil is spilled during drilling, extraction and transportation
  • Air pollution when fuels are burnt
  • In addition to this direct contamination pollution results in
  • The death of animals and birds
  • The destruction of arable land and the destruction of animal habitats
  • The disruption of ecosystems
  • Fuels are burnt in limited air resulting in carbon monoxide and soot pollution
  • Petrol additives such as lead that are added to prevent “knocking”
  • Vaporize when burnt leading to higher concentration of lead in urban areas
  • Lead compounds cause brain damage
  • Coal components also escape and pollute the air when coal is burnt
  • Sulphur and phosphorus compounds from the coal are oxidized
  • This dissolve in the air resulting in acid rain
  • Acid rain is harmful to structures, plants and animals
  • Wood also results in pollution
  • Excessive cutting of wood results in deforestation
  • This in turn leads to land degradation
  • Plant and animal habitats are
  • Most fuel sources are non-renewable
  • This means that once the resource has been used up it cannot be replenished/remade
  • Examples of non-renewable sources of energy include fossil fuels
  • Renewable energy sources include solar and hydro power(water energy)

Solving some of the problems results from the use of fuels

  • Some of the problems resulting from the use of fuels can be mitigated
  • Mitigation steps can include:
  • The preferential use of renewable energy sources of energy such as solar
  • Use of “clean” sources of energy such as wind, water and solar
  • Replanting of trees
  • Using fast growing trees such as eucalyptus for fuel
  • Creating protected sanctuaries for endangered animals
  • Improving the fuel efficiency of engines
  • Use public transport systems to reduce the number of private cars
  • Introducing carbon taxes
  • Setting up methane digestors and
  • Growing catch crops such as sunflower and maize
  • A catch crop is a crop that can be used for both food and energy
  • For example sunflower oil can be mixed with diesel
  • Blending fuels
  • Using biofuels

To access more topics go to the Combined Science Notes page.