Can We Stop Using Fossil Fuels?
Climate change is currently one of the major challenges facing the world today. Across different parts of the globe, there have been ongoing debates on ways of tackling the challenge to make the earth a more conducive and sustainable place for human and animal life. Fossil fuels have been cited as some of the greatest air and environmental pollutants. Consequently, one of the key issues that have been at the core of the climate change discussion is whether we can stop extracting and using fossil files and shift to other more friendly and less harmful forms sources of energy. Nonetheless, it is not practicable to stop using fossil fuels because the global economy relies on them, among other things, for the generation of electricity and transportation.
Human beings heavily depend on electricity in almost all aspects of life. Noteworthy, fossil fuels are the primary energy sources used to generate electricity, and their uses for electricity generation have risen over the years. According to the World Nuclear Association (2021), “in 2017, fossil fuels generated 64.5% of worldwide electricity, compared with 61.9% in 1990.” In addition to domestic uses such as lighting rooms, heating our homes, and cooking, electricity significantly supports human health as physicians rely on it for surgeries, X-rays, and other medical procedures. Unquestionably, human wellbeing largely depends on fossil fuels, as are the major source from which electricity is generated.
Fossil fuels are used to produce petroleum products such as gasoline, propane, and diesel fuel, without which transportation would almost be impossible. Denchak (2018) notes that petroleum products meet close to 40% of the U.S. energy needs, whereas the transportation sector is the consumer’s biggest petroleum energy. The economy, both at the national and global level, largely relies on transportation. It is through transportation that both domestic and transborder trade is made possible. Again, petroleum energy enables people’s movement to and from their workplaces or businesses, thus making it possible for them to earn their livelihoods. In essence, fossil fuels aid transportation which in turn promotes economic growth.
However, with the growing concerns about climate change and the dangers it poses to human life, the world should consider shifting from fossil fuels to other safer energy sources such as wind and solar energy. Tierney and Bird (2020) assert that in some of the U.S regions where solar and wind energy is available, the energy produced by coal and natural gas has been successfully replaced. This clearly shows that, indeed, the world can stop extracting and using fossil fuels. The current dominance of solar and wind energy in power plants in the U.S today indicates that the world can operate without fossil fuels.
Although fossil fuels have been blamed for polluting the environment, they are credited as the global economic drivers. The generation of electricity from coal and natural gases is crucial for domestic and industrial purposes such as manufacturing, without which the global economy would not survive. Lastly, petroleum products from fossil fuels are used to power our cars, ships, and airplanes, enabling the transportation of people and goods from one country to another. Even as the discussion around climate change continues, it is important to understand that moving from fossil fuels is a gradual process that cannot happen overnight.
Denchak, M. (2018). Fossil fuels: The dirty facts. NRDC. https://www.nrdc.org/stories/fossil-fuels-dirty-facts.
Tierney, S., & Bird, L. (2020). Setting the record straight about renewable energy. World Resources Institute. https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/05/setting-record-straight-about-renewable-energy
World Nuclear Association. (2021). Where does our electricity come from? https://www.world-nuclear.org/nuclear-essentials/where-does-our-electricity-come-from.aspx#:~:text=Coal%2C%20gas%20and%20oil,drive%20turbines%20which%20generate%20electricity.