The Disadvantages of Oil
- Oil is a non-renewable energy source that takes millions of years to form and therefore once existing and any new reserves are depleted there is no way to obtain more.
- While oil is relatively easy to transport, one of the more common transportation methods is shipping oil from port to port by ‘supertanker’ – massive purpose-built tanker ships capable of transporting enormous quantities of oil by sea. While spills are rare they are by no means unheard of and the resulting inevitably catastrophic effect on marine life, birds and coastlines is evident for many years.
- Burning oil generates carbon dioxide, a ‘greenhouse gas’ – although to a slightly lesser extent than coal in terms of the energy extracted.
- Oil contains sulphur which when burnt forms sulphur dioxide and sulphur trioxide – these compounds combine with atmospheric moisture to form sulphuric acid, leading to ‘acid rain’. This can lead to destruction of forests and the progressive erosion of rock and masonry structures, both natural and man-made. The use of low-sulphur fuels can help to reduce the impact of this.
- Oil is neither as clean nor efficient in use as natural gas.
- Many of the countries where oil can be found are politically unstable – around 70% of the world’s oil reserves are believed to be located in the Middle East. Developed nations with an oil-dependency have a vested interest in such countries and may seek to influence the politics of such countries to their own advantage.
- Locating additional oil reserves is an extremely costly ongoing process with no guarantee of success.
- While many of the products obtained from oil are hugely beneficial to mankind, many are also highly toxic.