Fuel under Fire

Petroleum and Its Perils

  • Interest Level: Grade 6 - Grade 12
  • Reading Level: Grade 8

Every day, people on Earth use about 90 million barrels of petroleum (oil and natural gas) to fuel cars, buses, airplanes, farm equipment, and factories; to heat their homes; and to manufacture detergents, paints, plastics, and countless other products. To get that petroleum, oil and gas companies search all over the planet—from northernmost Canada to deep under the ocean. Because it is such a valuable commodity, petroleum has become known as black gold. And because of global dependence on this natural resource, scholars say we are living in the Age of Oil.

Alongside its benefits, petroleum has serious drawbacks. It is not a renewable resource, and many of Earth’s most easily accessed petroleum deposits have been used up. Companies have begun to search for oil in more difficult-to-reach places, using controversial methods. Extracting, processing, and refining oil is often environmentally destructive. Oil spills and other accidents can contaminate soil and water, kill wildlife, and make people sick. On a larger scale, burning fossil fuels such as petroleum releases large amounts of carbon dioxide into the air, leading to climate change.

Even as governments, activists, and researchers explore a wide range of conservation measures and alternative fuel sources, the world continues to run on petroleum. And the struggle to balance the pros and cons of this coveted resource will play a decisive role in the planet’s future.

Format Your Price Add
Interest Level Grade 6 - Grade 12
Reading Level Grade 8
Genre Science, Young Adult
Category STEM, STEM: Earth Science
Copyright 2016
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Twenty-First Century Books ™
Language English
Number of Pages 104
Publication Date 2015-08-01
Text Type Argument
BISACS YAN050090, YAN050070, YAN051000
Dewey 338.2’728
Dimensions 6 x 9
Lexile 1270
Features Bibliography/further reading, Charts/Graphs/Diagrams, Glossary, Index, Maps, Reviewed, Sidebars, Source notes, Starred Reviews, and Table of contents

Author: Margaret J. Goldstein

Margaret J. Goldstein was born in Detroit and graduated from the University of Michigan. She is an editor and the author of many books for young readers. She lives in Palm Springs, California.



“Compellingly written…with surprising, sickening statistics….Though concise, a solid purchase for schools and public libraries.”―Booklist

Kirkus Reviews

“In a clear, cautionary presentation, Goldstein takes readers into the world of fossil fuels….a stellar treatment of energy issues. A top-shelf explication of the energy world, measured but pulling no punches.”―starred, Kirkus Reviews

School Library Journal

“[A] well-written, handsome volume….This is a balanced and thought-provoking look at the issue….An excellent option for reports.”―School Library Journal