Энергетические ресурсы — страница 2

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far the world's worst nuclear accident. Phytoplankton are tiny floating plants called algae. The commonest are golden or brown colored diatoms and din flagellates. Zooplankton are tiny animals, which eat the phytoplankton but are themselves the main food for fish and some whales. Oil (petroleum) and natural gas formed by complex decay processes from microscopic life forms called phytoplankton (phyto=plant) which floated in the world's oceans millions of years ago. Just like today's phytoplankton, they harnessed the Sun to photosynthesis and store energy. When these myriads of tiny floating plants died, they sank to the sea floor and became mixed with muds from distant rivers, and were gradually buried. Over immense periods of time, the soft sediments became ever more deeply

buried and slowly hardened into rocks. Heat from the Earth's interior and the weight of the overlying rocks gradually changed the energy-containing substances in the accumulated plants into hydrocarbon liquids and gases. Hydrocarbons are simple molecules made up of carbon and hydrogen atoms joined together in chains or in rings. These molecules, being light and mobile, migrated upwards through the rocks but eventually became trapped beneath impermeable rock structures in the Earth's crust. The oil and gas companies around the world know how to find these trapped reservoirs and release their contents by drilling holes into them. As everyone knows, crude oil and gas from these deposits form the basis for the world's largest energy industry: oil and gas. Much oil and gas production

now comes from underneath the seabed. As the technology for extraction continues to advance, production becomes possible from deeper and deeper waters. This means that new oil and gas fields will continue to be found for some years yet so the early forecasts of oil running dry have proved to be wrong. But we know that the supplies are limited. We also know that every drop of oil we burn adds to the monumental environment problems we already have by pumping gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. Many scientists worry that this continual release of CO2 is an important cause of global warming. Nuclear power taps the ultimate source of energy, which powers the universe, and its myriads of stars like our Sun. It exploits the famous E=mc2 [e1] equation, which shows that

matter, can change into energy. Nuclear engineers deliberately arrange to "split" certain atoms - this is called nuclear fission. When this happens, some matter gets destroyed - liberating huge amounts of energy. This energy mostly ends up as heat from which you can make steam to drive turbines and generators, and make electricity in power stations. In the Sun, atoms of hydrogen fuse to create helium and liberate the seemingly endless stream of energy we call sunlight. Without this solar fusion reactor 150 million kilometers away, our home planet would be a frigid lifeless world. Scientists hope to reproduce this fusion reaction in a controlled way to yield almost unlimited energy supplies with far fewer radioactive waste problems. So far, they've only managed the

uncontrolled reactions ... hydrogen bombs. The discovery of nuclear reactions is a wonderful example of the neutrality or indifference of science. Like so many other discoveries, humans for good or for ill could exploit nuclear reactions. The pressures of war caused the ill to be developed first but out of that development came an industry, which now provides 22% of electricity supply in the OECD countries. In France, it provides 73%; in the UK 23% and 17% in the USA. And whilst it's true that the two nuclear bombs used in anger on Japan killed and maimed hundreds of thousands, they have some way to go to catch up with the hundreds of millions of people who've lost their lives because of ordinary bombs, high-explosive shells, bullets and mines. Many claim that the very existence

of nuclear weapons has prevented major conflict since World War 2. But what really scares people - and rightly so - is that modern nuclear weapons could destroy the entire planet ... if they're ever used in anger again. So now, there are forces -like the World Court Project - afoot to make their possession and use illegal throughout the world. On the other hand, many countries view with disgust the idea that the nuclear "haves" should keep their weapons whilst making sure that the "have nots" don't get any; a kind of nuclear imperialism. This is a good reason for making all such weapons illegal. Otherwise, proliferation is a worry, particularly since the break-up of the Soviet Union, which has inadvertently made weapons-grade materials available on the