Earth, Energy


Fossil Fuels


In this capstone activity, we are going to try to look at our individual fossil fuel usage. It would be nice if we could actually calculate how much each on of us is responsible for using. However, a great deal of our personal fossil fuel usage is hidden from us and almost impossible to calculate. For instance, the food that we eat was produced using oil in the fertilizer spread on the crops, fuel in the tractors that plowed the field, and diesel in the trucks that brought the food to market, amongst other things. The newspaper you read in the morning required fossil fuels to create the paper, run the presses, and deliver the paper. Every product that you use during your day has a similar story. Rather than try to calculate the total amount of fossil fuels that you use, we are going to only look at some rather direct usage that we can track very easily. For the purposes of this activity, we are going to investigate how much fossil fuel we use to transport ourselves and to power our homes. This usage is just a fraction of the total amount of usage for which we are responsible. All of our usage from industrial and commercial processes combined amounts to over 8.2 barrels of oil, .7 tons of coal, and 53 tcf of natural gas per person in the U.S. per year. Even these numbers do not account for transporting products to market or to your home.