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Fossil Fuel-based Energy is Unsustainable and Harmful

Fossil fuels have long been the primary source of energy around the globe, but their ever-diminishing supply has led many experts to conclude that they're simply not sustainable. Fossil fuel-reliant energy sources are also responsible for an array of critical issues, such as catastrophic climate change, health hazards, and financial uncertainties.
Dec 31, 2020Updated 5 months ago
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Fossil fuels are finite. After being mined for 200 years, the earth's fossil fuels are running out. What's left won't be able to meet the ever-growing demand for the energy that fossil fuels provide.
The discovery of fossil fuel-powered energy completely changed how people lived and ushered in the Industrial Era. This energy allowed people to innovate and build. With every advance in industries like mechanics and transportation, humans' reliance on fossil fuels increased. Over time, the extraction and refinement of these energy sources became industries in and of themselves. Early industrialists pursued large-scale extraction with little knowledge of fossil fuels' limited supply. The profit to be made from an ever-growing demand for energy trumped all else, even as awareness grew of the downsides of fossil fuels. Now, almost everything in our lives—from the electricity that charges our cell phones to the gas that powers airplanes—is completely dependent on energy that's still largely sourced from fossil fuels. As earth's population grows, so does the demand for and dependency on energy sources that are rapidly depleting (if not depleted altogether, as in the case of some fossil fuel reserves). Resources like oil and coal are getting harder to find, and newly discovered reserves tend to be too small to meet sustained demand. Ecotricity, a U.K.-based green energy company, predicts oil, gas, and coal reserves may be completely within about 150 years, stating, "And when they’re gone, they’re gone pretty much forever." The finite nature of fossil fuel-based energy makes it inherently unsustainable. If we don't preserve existing resources and adopt alternative energy sources now, it could be lights out for future generations.
Fossil fuels wreak global havoc. From health issues to pollution to war, fossil fuel production and use pose serious threats to the environment and the well-being of nearly every living thing on the planet.
Fossil fuel production and use have been scientifically linked to a number of health issues and damage to natural habitats. The diminishing sources of fossil fuels have caused job insecurity for many in the energy industry and even financial ruin for entire communities. Control and transport of fossil fuels have been at the root of violent conflict between nations, endangering the lives of millions over the course of many decades. Fossil fuel-based energy is also a cause of irreversible damage to the environment, damage that runs the gamut from neighborhood pollution to widespread destruction. The Manchester neighborhood of Houston has been the repository of runoff from nearby oil and gas refineries for so long that it's not safe to let children linger too long in its playgrounds or parks, and its residents' risk of cancer is 22 percent higher than that of the overall Houston area. On a larger scale, oil spills at sea and on land have caused major damage to ecosystems, wildlife, and people. The 15 worst spills in history have dumped 44,631,713 gallons of oil on sea and land—and that's a conservative number. Some of these oil spills have claimed human lives, had tragic consequences for helpless wildlife, and affected air and water quality. Projects like the Keystone Pipeline (which runs from Canada to Texas) and hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") demonstrate the persistent issues inherent in fossil fuel reliance. The Keystone Pipeline runs through multiple vulnerable ecosystems and poses significant risk of oil spills, air and water pollution, and damage to wildlife. Fracking poses all the same threats while also causing earthquakes.
The proof is there: Fossil fuels are both in short supply and responsible for irreversible damage. These factors make fossil fuels and the various industries surrounding them, like drilling and refinement, unsustainable, unpredictable, and unquestionably harmful to nearly every species on earth and the earth itself.
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