Is Natural Gas Really Fool-Proof?
The debate about natural gas has grown ever larger in the past decade – not to mention, in just the past few months as pipelines have been breaking and finding themselves in the news. Real research on the upsides and downsides of natural gas, has become something that people are doing as of late. They are starting to wonder if natural gas is still the best source of energy for one and all…or, if natural gas is actually nothing more than the ‘best’ of a bad situation. In other words, when all the pros and cons are listed about oil, methane, etc., and natural gas, will the latter become one of those things that the world uses just because it’s the most simplistic and because the ‘accidents’ that can occur with this product are less horrific than the accidents that can occur with others?
When researching, the benefits of natural gas are huge, especially when it comes to the environmental impact of the product. This is one of those sources of energy that’s abundant and has been called the securest source of energy. When it comes to the world of fossil fuels, natural gas is the cleanest. The main products of natural gas are carbon dioxide and water vapor, which are the exact same compounds we exhale. Therefore, by using natural gas, we are creating less greenhouse gas emissions than with either heating oil, or electricity generated from fossil fuels. By burning natural gas, fewer harmful pollutants are released into the atmosphere. Those are the environmental benefits… However, then we come to the distribution system of natural gas which has some people in an uproar, especially after noticing on the news that these systems can, in fact, erupt or break at times.
Because natural gas is found underground, it does require a well to be drilled in order to tap into the natural gas reservoirs. Once a drill discovers and finds an area that contains natural gas, it’s then brought to the surface through pipes. From larger pipelines, the gas then is distributed through small pipes into our neighborhoods.
The EPA defines energy efficiency as: “products or systems that use less energy to do the same or better job than conventional products or systems.” This energy efficiency saves money – which, of course, is one of the major issues in this world. Saving cash on utility bills is something everyone wants, and to be able to receive that while at the same time reducing the demand for energy and protecting the environment, certainly becomes the ‘best’ way of doing things.
More and more, solar energy is taking the place of natural gas when it comes to being better for the environment. Not to mention, the huge outpouring of support for geothermal heating and cooling systems which use the temperature of the earth, itself, to make sure water is heated naturally and houses receive the heat and cool they need at a lower cost.
So what happens to the natural gas supply if solar power and geothermal take over the world of energy? Can it even happen? Well, it can, seeing as that natural gas has become somewhat of an issue. Not dangerous, natural gas is actually a very safe and secure resource when sealed up tight inside those pipelines and used correctly. The natural gas pipes underground and inside a person’s house are designed to keep the gas safe; and there are definite rules set in place for everything from digging to building houses to using appliances in order to make sure no ‘accidents’ occur.
However…nothing is perfect. Natural gas leaks do occur and when the gas leaks out, it becomes absolutely flammable. If there is a flame in the vicinity or a spark of any kind, a fire or explosion will erupt. Gas pipeline damages hit the news every once in a while; a leak can happen in many ways due to digging a hole and accidentally rupturing an underground line. Natural gas can also leak out if an appliance isn’t hooked up correctly.
Worst part of natural gas leaks? When the gas first begins to leak there is absolutely no visual element, and you can not smell anything whatsoever. That’s why many gas companies will add a chemical that actually smells like rotten eggs to the gas so that homeowners can smell the trouble immediately.
It still remains that natural gas leaks are rare. But, yes, they do occur and when they do…the consequences can be huge to both human life and the environment.
Carbon monoxide will always be that dangerous variable that you can’t see or smell, but can make you incredibly sick. When breathed in, CO gets into the bloodstream and actually stops the needed oxygen from getting to the brain.
In the end, when all the pluses and minuses are laid out side by side, natural gas is still one of the most approved ways to create electric/power resources. But keep up with the news, everybody. Keep researching! Because if you are in the process or will be in the process of building a new home or renovating the one you have, solar power may just be the ‘best’ way to go in 2013!