Can We Stop Using Fossil Fuels?
Fossil fuel extraction has been practised for decades. Some fossil fuels extracted include coal, oil, and natural gas formed from dead animals and plants. However fossil fuels have economic benefits, but over the years, it has continued to harm the environment. Despite the use of clean energy, many countries in the world continue to burn and extract fossil fuels more than before. The fact remains that we have more gas, coal, and oil than we can safely burn. Climate change has remained a challenge to the world considering the use of fossil fuels hence why it has not been easy to tackle global warming. The issue of fossil fuel is debatable, but it is possible to stop using it.
Scientists have argued that there is increased global warming due to pollution. Environmentalists are concerned about the industrial use of fossil fuels to produce power. According to Chmielewski (30), fossil fuels use produces major constituent that affects people’s lives. Of concern is the production of carbon and hydrogen. Moreover, fossil fuel consumption produces other materials like sulfur, heavy metal, and nitrogen compounds. It is these elements that affect the lives of people around industrial plants and inhabitants living in cities. The negative effect of fossil fuels threatens the life of people and, more so, small children. In this regard, minimising or stopping relying on fossil fuels is advisable.
However, using fossil fuels has caused a lot of damage to the world’s climate. For instance, by the end of 1990, many concerns were raised about fossil fuels’ role in generating greenhouse gas emissions and carbon dioxide that affected the climate (Covert 119). Research shows that about 70 per cent of global gas emissions are from the combustion of fossil fuels. Besides, according to research, coal emits 45% of the emissions, natural gas emits 20 per cent of the emissions, and oil emits 35% of the emissions (Covert 122). Only two options can be used to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. One option is to reduce future consumption of fossil fuels and the other option is to expand the size of world forests to capture carbon dioxide.
Few countries in the world have implemented viable policies to limit fossil fuel use by imposing taxes, regulations, and fees on carbon emissions. Data derived from BP Statistical Review of Energy show that both consumptions of coal and oil are down by 10 per cent while the use of natural gas is up by 10 percent from 2006 levels (Covert 132). Also, there have been few policy responses from developing countries aimed at limiting the consumption of fossil fuels even though they are even experiencing very high costs from conservative air pollution (Kalair et al. 135). However, some of these developed countries have greatly expanded the use of fossil fuels to an extent that they have 46 percent coal consumption, 33 percent oil consumption, and 35 percent gas consumption (Covert 136).
Therefore, it will not be easy to stop using fossil fuels as the main source of energy in the absence of considerable greenhouse gas policies. The fact will remain that the supply of fossil fuels will unlikely to run out, considering that the future technological change considers major new sources like methane hydrates and oil shale commercially viable. Some sources like solar and wind energy which act as alternative sources of clean energy have seen extensive progress in reducing costs. The only challenge is that wind power and solar power cannot run base-load electrical capacity engines. It will not be easy to implement some of the policies not to use fossil fuels in low- and middle-income countries because their people earn a low income. Therefore, it seems that the current combination of policies and markets cannot diminish the use of greenhouse gases without considering other viable measures.
According to Lelieveld et al. (7192), fossil fuel emissions account for 65 percent of mortality. The author argues that greenhouse gases affect not only public health, but also the hydrologic cycle and the climate. Of major effect is the effect of fossil fuel on the changes in climatic conditions. In recent times, the climate has become so severe that it is causing too much damage to people livelihood resulting in drought and destruction of property, which directly impacts people’s lives. Thus given the negative impact of using fossil fuels, it is prudent to argue that people can live better without its use. It is important to gradually or drastically minimize fossil fuel use to save millions of people from perturbed weather patterns and reduce negative aerosol in the environment.
Fossil fuels have sustained life for the past decade as a reliable source of power. From the invention of the locomotive to the transport industry, fossil fuels have played a considerable role in supporting the way of life worldwide. Even today, more than 60% of the world’s inhabitants rely on fossil fuel to run their industries, cars, and airplanes (World Nuclear Association). The growth of renewable energy sources has not made it easy for most people. Thus, there is still a long way to go to do away with fossil fuels, given their negative impact on our lives. People need the power to produce, warm their homes, and travel around the world. Thus, fossil fuels are important products that sustain people’s way of life.
In the past decade, the government has invested heavily in renewable energy. The production of electric vehicles to cut carbon monoxide on our environment is of concern. Major stakeholders in the car manufacturing business, from Tesla, Ford, Toyota, and Honda, are currently producing electric cars on a large scale. Therefore, doing away with fossil fuels to run our vehicles is possible. When this is done and given that there has been tremendous hydro power growth to run our industries, people will not need to use fossil fuels shortly.
Moreover, the positive effect of renewable power had made life more efficient and made our environment better. People’s life in green cities is much better than they used to be. The mortality rate is declining, and productivity and commerce are thriving on a large scale. In instances where fossil fuels are used to produce electricity the cost is so high to sustain it in to the future. Innovation into solar power, wind power has cut cost of producing power. Thus, the benefit of stopping fossil fuels outlay its usage.
Chmielewski, Andrzej. Environmental effects of fossil fuel combustion (INCT–4/B/99). Poland, 1999.
Covert, Thomas, Michael Greenstone, and Christopher R. Knittel. “Will we ever stop using fossil fuels?” Journal of Economic Perspectives 30.1 (2016): 117-38.
Kalair, Anam, et al. “Role of energy storage systems in the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables.” Energy Storage 3.1 (2021): e135.
Lelieveld, J. et al. “Effects of fossil fuel and total anthropogenic emission removal on public health and climate.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 116 (2019): 7192 – 7197.
World Nuclear Association. Where does our electricity come from? 2021. 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.