Recently representatives of nearly 200 countries met in Madrid, Spain, to explore, and perhaps agree on means to control greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide emissions. The U.S., of course, having a scientifically challenged president, is withdrawing from the Paris accord.
Yes, the entire world has to reduce the use of fossil fuels in order to maintain a livable climate. But that is not the only reason. Fossil fuels, by their very definition, are finite. Once they are exhausted, the globe does not produce any more. While some countries are indeed cutting back on fossil fuel use, others, like us, the U.S., are building ever larger, heavier, more powerful and fuel-inefficient SUVs and trucks.
Imagine a time when oil wells begin to run dry. When natural gas sources run low. Yes, there are renewable energy alternatives, such as wind, hydro and solar power. But they will be of no use for certain means of transportation, such as airplanes, ships, large semi-trucks and railroads. And yes, even railroads can run on electricity (as they do all over Europe), but that will require major investments in electrifying lines. But where will all the electrical power come from? The renewable sources won’t be anywhere near enough. The only possible remaining source would be nuclear power. There simply is no excuse any longer for wasting fossil fuels to produce electricity. France, for example, safely produces about 70 percent of its power from nuclear facilities.
Most people can only think of oil and gas as automobile and other fuels. But oil and gas are vital to all commerce. Consider the plastics, synthetic fibers, rubber, pharmaceutical industries; all of which rely on oil and gas for their feedstock.
Would it not make a great deal of sense to sharply reduce the use of fossil fuels, thus at least slowing down climate change, but, even more importantly, stop wasting finite resources so we may count on a supply of these fuels for applications that cannot exist without them. And, if we do it right, we may even save enough of these treasures for our children’s and grandchildren’s use.