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.
Last updated on Jan 23 , 2021
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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.
As Houston plots a sustainable path forward, it’s leaving this neighborhood behind
Houston’s Most Polluted Neighborhood Draws the Line at Alberta Tar Sands
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