“There is an urgent need to stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry, dramatically reduce wasted energy, and significantly shift our power supplies from oil, coal, and natural gas to wind, solar, geothermal, and other renewable energy sources.” – Bill McKibben

Our world is now thoroughly dependent on fossil fuels . Throughout the world to power everything – from cars to lights in homes – we need fossil fuels . However, currently, a hot debate is raging over the pros and cons of fossil fuels : is it right to use them? Are they safe to use? Should we be trying to cut down on how much we use year on year? 

In recent times, we have managed to find more and more alternatives to fossil fuels , including more renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind and hydro power. The most common fossil fuels are coal, natural gas and petroleum, all of which have been formed over millions of years

Let’s look at another paradoxical phenomenon: smoking is injurious to health, and yet packs of cigarettes are sold every day with them bearing the warning:  “smoking causes cancer and is injurious to health”.

As smoking dangerous to our health and destroys our lungs, since it contains toxic agents like tar and nicotine, WHO had banned tobacco industries in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control as they produce products that are hazardous to health.

Now, my point is that if tobacco industries can be banned because of its ill effects to our health, then why not the fossil fuels industries? They are also killing us in a similar manner. The number of vehicles and industries in the world are increasing day by day, and along with them, pollution. The most regrettable aspect of this situation is that we have totally neglected the management of waste from these industries. The waste is not managed and as a result of it our marine life is at an edge and many distinct species are endangered. Moreover, the smoke from the industries and from the vehicles are a source of acid rain, destroying our crops and human health.

Why am I asking for a ban on the fossil industries? It is all based on my personal observations. There are many reasons to ban them. A few of them are discussed below:

1)      Environmental Degradation: The main disadvantage of using fossil fuels , of course, is the pollution that they cause. The problems that are caused as a direct result of burning fossil fuels are well documented by scientists all throughout the world. Carbon dioxide is released into the air when fossil fuels are burned. This has been directly linked to global warming, making fossil fuels very dangerous to the general health of our planet.

2)      Need Truckloads of Reserves: Power stations are where power comes from – coal is burned and energy is generated. However, for these power stations to keep working, they require huge amounts of coal to be brought in every single day. Truckloads of fuel, trainloads of fuel need to be shipped into power stations very regularly in order to keep up the level of energy that is required by all those houses, hospitals and shops relying on the power from these fossil fuel power stations.

·         This means that either power stations need to be built very close to large deposits of coal, or that the coal needs to be shipped miles away to the nearest power station, which requires more power and ends up damaging the Earth even more. These methods of generating electricity can, therefore, be incredibly expensive, and the prices are due to keep on rising as the fuel shortage worsens

3)      Public Health Issues: Fossil fuels are not at all environment friendly. Burning of fossil fuels result in pollution and can cause serious environmental concerns. Pollution-related diseases kill millions of children a year. According to WHO, 7 million premature deaths annually linked to air pollution. High levels of air pollution can adversely affect your lungs and trigger asthma. People who live in areas with a large amount of traffic are at high risk.

4)      Finite Energy Source: Fossil fuels are a finite energy resource. Unlike sunlight, water or wind energy, fossil fuels cannot be renewed: the amount of fossil fuels in the earth’s crust today are all that we are ever going to get (at least until another several hundred million years pass and even more organic matter decays and decomposes). This means that, once the gas, coal and petroleum reserves have been completely used up, there is nothing more left. Unfortunately this also means that we will not be able to use our cars any more as we have not yet found a suitable method to run cars that works as efficiently as petroleum or that is not dangerous.

5)      Oil Spill: Once again, fossil fuels candamage the environment, this time in the form of oil spills. Huge tankers carrying oil from one place to another – at great cost and great risk – can sometimes crash or run aground and spill the content into the sea and on the nearby coast. This is disastrous not only for the sea and land but for the animals that live off of it. Birds can get coated in the oil and be unable to fly, fish can choke and other animals, such as seals or penguins, can ingest this deadly fuel when they try to clean it off themselves. Oil spills do not occur often, but when they do they can kill hundreds if not thousands of animals.

6)      Rising Cost: Few middle-east countries in this world hold surplus amount of fossil fuels and are responsible for 40 percent of the world’s oil production. The rest of the world depend on these countries to fulfil the gap between demand and supply in their own countries. Lower output, fear of war, strikes by trade unions can result in worldwide price fluctuations.

Despite the Paris agreement on cutting down carbon emissions , and to reduce the global temperature by 1.5 degrees Celsius, we haven’t taken any of it seriously. Our climate is reaching an edge, if not the end. Smoking and fossil fuels go side by side. The question is, are we really serious in tackling the issues posed by both these things?