It's all over the news at the moment as Big Coal, Oil and Gas are at war with environmentalists or rather the people-majority and national governments are stuck in the middle. There's a lot of misrepresentation and miscommunication in the media so let's talk about what the big deal about these industries and what is the way forward?
Coal, oil and gas are what are called fossil fuels, formed over millions of years from organic matter buried deep within the ground. These fuels have been the primary source of fuel for powering powering machinery and vehicles, and creating electricity and heating and for the last two centuries. But in recent decades through scientific investigation has discovered that these industries; in the extracting, producing and 'burning' of fossil fuels (i.e. when used as fuel) causes millions of tons of carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere every year in addition to polluting the air, soil and waterways and destroying natural habitats to make way for mines. The result is our atmosphere is unable to absorb these high levels of carbon dioxide and it causes a gradual change in it's make up particularly increasing the Earth's temperatures known as Climate Change. If we think about planets such as Mars and Venus their carbon dioxide levels are so high it makes it impossible for life to grow or survive due to the heat and toxicity of the air.
It is as Al Gore put it “an inconvenient truth”; our modern lifestyles have become so reliant on machinery and electricity, many still would rather turn a blind eye than consider the prospect of change. These industries are also big money, contribute to economies, create trade and provide jobs. However, it's not a matter of continuing on the way we are or revert to caveman times as seems to be the fear. The industries of renewable resources have made leaps and bounds in recent times and provide safer, more efficient and cheaper possibilities for powering our society. Even if we would like to ignore the destruction we have caused to a planet we often forget we need for our survival, the reality is these fossil fuels are a finite resource and they are running out meaning prices will increase rapidly in the near future.
Of course the big industries don't want to let go whilst there is still money to be made, however we as a world populace should acknowledge that all industries have a time and a place and often professions and products that were once essential are now extinct. Holding onto practices which only cause damage and are threatening the lives and future of this planet is not only unsustainable but absurd. This is why the big shift needs to be made; money, energy and jobs that were used to fund fossil fuels should be redirected to renewable resources such as wind, hydro and solar power. And many places in the world are making the big move as we've talked about in past weeks. Education is our greatest resource to break through ignorance and out-of-date policy, so keep yourselves informed and if you want to take it further find ways to make your voice heard on helping reduce our impact on the Earth. Remember we only have one!