Fossil fuels are a non-renewable resource. They are used in the production of energy, and have been consumed at increasing rates in recent history.
Fossil fuels include coal, natural gas, and oil. All three of these are available in a fixed supply, and are
being rapidly depleted.
The first major use of fossil fuels began during the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century. However, it took until the beginning of the 20th century for coal to replace wood as the dominant source of fuel for the new industrial economy.
Coal took over because it became much easier and cheaper to mine, and it was a better source of energy than wood.
years, oil and natural gas replaced coal. These fossil fuels are cleaner than coal, and easier to transport. Also, oil can be used when liquid fuel is needed.
In the 1970s, the world and especially the US experienced serious fossil fuel shortages. When OPEC put an embargo against the United States, many people began to conserve energy and realize the effects of a lack of fossil fuels.
In 1984, the three major
fossil fuels accounted for 82% of the world's commercial energy production. In the US, 91% of the energy supply came from burning those fossil fuels.
Throughout the history of industrialization, major changes have occurred. In the beginning, the industrializing countries used substances such as wood that were available locally to generate energy. Now, by contrast, the developed countries rely on fossil fuels that are transported to them.