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

Coal, oil, and natural gas are often referred to as "fossil fuels" because they are derived from the remains of plants and animals that lived millions of years ago. Yes, dinosaurs too! (So the next time you pull into the gas station, ask the attendant to "Fill 'er up with T. rex--unleaded, of course!")

Living things are made mostly of carbon. When they die, their bodies are decomposed (broken down into smaller pieces) by microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi. These remains eventually become buried and accumulate in layers under the Earth's surface. Over a very long time (hundreds of thousands to millions of years) the remains are squeezed together and warmed by the Earth's heat. Chemical reactions take place which transform the carbon from the plant and animal remains into fossil fuels.

Many people are concerned about finding new or alternative fuel sources because one day we will probably run out of fossil fuels. However, sending our dead plants and animals to Venus to make more fuel probably won't work because: 1)Venus lacks the microorganisms that are essential for decomposition to take place, 2) Venus is extremely hot (8550F, or 457oC) and our carcasses would probably burn before we could bury them, 3) It would cost A LOT of money to ship them there in the first place (and UPS does NOT deliver to Venus!), and 4) We're better off finding alternative energy sources rather than trying to make more fossil fuels. Burning fossil fuels pollutes our atmosphere and adds excess carbon dioxide which contributes to global warming.

However, Venus definitely has at least one of the features needed to make fossil fuels, and that's "pressure". The surface pressure of Venus is 90 times greater than on Earth--enough to crush a human being! You'd have to go deep sea diving at 3,000 feet below the ocean's surface to experience a similar pressure on Earth. But if you're going to try it, be sure to travel in a pressurized submersible like Jacques Cousteau's "Nautilus", since no scuba diver would ever make it at this depth!

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

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