Energy in Earth systems can exist in a number of forms (e.g., thermal energy as heat in the Earth, chemical energy stored as fossil fuels, mechanical energy as delivered by tides) and can be transformed from one state to another and move from one reservoir to another. Movement of matter and its component elements, through and between Earth’s systems, is driven by Earth’s internal (radioactive decay and gravity) and external (Sun as primary) sources of energy. Thermal energy is transferred by radiation, convection, and conduction. Fossil fuels are derived from plants and animals of the past, are nonrenewable, and, therefore, are limited in availability. All sources of energy for human consumption (e.g., solar, wind, nuclear, ethanol, hydrogen, geothermal, hydroelectric) have advantages and disadvantages.
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