The Truth Is Out There – Why Our Dependence on Fossil Fuels Is Here to Stay

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keystone xl fossil fuels protest
Photo via Tarsands Action

Solar, wind, geothermal – there are plenty of alternatives to the fossil fuels powering most things in our lives.

Scientists for years have been advising us to seek out and use these alternatives because fossil fuels are robbing our planet of its atmosphere – creating a greenhouse effect, which is warming our climate, and wreaking havoc with the Earth’s natural systems.

Politicians do what politicians do best – they talk the talk, but fail to walk the walk – often making sweeping statements about how we need to heed these scientific warnings, and cut our dependence on filthy fossil fuels.

However, their actions counter their words, as fossil fuel projects continue to receive funding.

Look at all the money being tossed into the Keystone XL Pipeline – about $7 USD billion in total — to transport flammable and toxic fossil fuels across populated areas of North America, starting in the north-west, and heading south across Canada and into the south-west United States.

Sure, American President Barack Obama allocated $150 USD billion for green initiatives for 2009 to 2014 – about $100 USD billion of it is for renewable energy – but why even consider building the Keystone Pipeline if they are serious about alternative fuels?

Our Economy and Infrastructure – that’s why.

We live in an oil-based economy, everything is measured in barrels of oils. We sit on the edges of our seats awaiting news of whether or not gas prices will increase or decrease when we fill up our vehicles, heat our homes, or power all our gadgets.

Almost everything sitting in front of you as you read this story has some petroleum-based products in it. Chances are, the computer monitor, laptop, tablet, or smart phone you are reading this story on, is made from plastics, rubbers, and other fossil fuel-based products.

The tires on the car, bus or bike you used to get from your home to work or school are petroleum-based products. Even the soles of your shoes have petroleum-based components in them.

Virtually everything we use throughout the day is based on our fossil fuel dependency.

Our homes, offices, schools, even the gas stations which dot our landscape all point to the saddest truth about the alternative fuel myth – our infrastructure supports the delivery and use of fossil fuels – not alternative ones.

The American government spends $1.6 trillion USD annually on maintaining this infrastructure, keeping the oil and natural gas flowing to our homes, offices, schools, and even the gas stations across the States.

Think about it – if you bought an all electric vehicle, such as Motor Trend’s Car of the Year for 2013, the Tesla Model S – where would plug it in?

You can’t just go to any McDonald’s, grab a Big Mac and then drag an extension cord through the front doors, and plug it in. Well you could, but you’d probably be told it was a tripping hazard, and asked to remove it.

Photo by Nicolas Morgan
Photo by Nicolas Morgan

Solar and wind farms are appearing around the world, providing green energy to millions of people. California leads the way in the States, with the largest American solar powered projects, including the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, in Riverside County, which will generate 550 mega-watts (MW) of electricity once complete.

Sounds impressive, but solar power only accounts for 0.16% of the total electricity generated in the States.

Despite all the hot air about alternative fuels politicians spew, wind power accounted for only 3.91% of all generated electricity for the 12 months of this year up to July. That’s not very much wind power at all.

Americans lead the way in geothermal power, with plants capable of generating 3,386 MW, from natural geysers. Still, they only accounted for 0.41% of the total US electricity generation.

We need to change our ways to become more eco-friendly in our power consumption, and distribution.

It’s one thing to build massive solar and wind farms, but if we’re plugging them into electrical grids primarily powered by coal power plants and even nuclear ones, we’re still dependent on fossil fuels for our power distribution.

Just as it is great to go out and get an electric vehicle, or even a plug-in hybrid. However, until it is just as socially acceptable to plug that vehicle into anyone’s electrical outlet, anywhere, as we currently plug our mobile devices in wherever we happen to be, we are still a society dependent fossilized beliefs.

We need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels completely to be truly free of their harmful effects on our environment, our dependency, and on us.