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If natural resouces (natural gas, oil, and coal) are formed by extremepressure acting on material made mainly of carbon, why don't we send large amounts of useless carbon based things to Venus where there is very extreme surface pressure?

Coal, oil (petroleum), and natural gas are often collectively referred to as "fossil fuels" because they are derived from the remains of plants and animals that lived millions of years ago. Like most living things, plants and animals are composed mostly of organic forms of carbon. When they die, microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi act to decompose their bodies into smaller particles which eventually become buried. Over a very long time, layers of buried plant and animal remains accumulate under pressure and react with the Earth's heat. Eventually, the organic carbon compounds in the remains are transformed into the "hydrocarbons" found in fossil fuels.

Fossil fuels are considered "nonrenewable resources" (also, "nonsustainable") because they cannot be replaced as fast as they are consumed. It is estimated that as much of 93% of the world's energy use is dependent on nonrenewable resources including fossil fuels. This has generated a great deal of interest in finding alternative energy sources because we realize that eventually one day we will run out!

Unfortunately, sending our dead plants and animals to Venus probably is not a feasible option . . . Not only would it cost an enormous amount of money to ship them there (and UPS does NOT deliver!), Venus lacks the microbes that would be needed for our carcasses to decompose and the surface temperature (855oF,or 457oC) would probably vaporize our shipment before we got a chance to bury it! Besides, we're probably much better off developing alternative energy sources that are sustainable (such as solar and wind) rather than trying to find ways to make more fossil fuel. When fossil fuels are burned, they release particulate carbon (smoke) which pollutes our atmosphere and carbon dioxide which contributes to global warming.

But you're right about the pressure on Venus. "Extreme" is a good way to describe it! Venusian pressure is 90 times greater than that on Earth and more than sufficient to crush a human being! It is estimated to be roughly equivalent to a deep sea dive 3,000 feet (900 m) below the ocean's surface--well beyond the range of even the most able-bodied scuba diver!!


Submitted by Landon (Missouri, USA)
(September 19, 1997)



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