Pop culture vs. Energy Education: Everyone knows who Taylor Swift dates, but no one knows her lipstick comes from an oil refinery
This site is supposed to explain energy concepts in terms everyone can understand by providing insight and stripping away media distortions. It has thus far been a miserable failure based on the questions I still hear/get asked about energy’s sources and uses, and the gross misunderstanding of energy’s contributions to modern life, even that of a typical North American hipster oaf that sneers at fossil fuels. Time to redouble my efforts, which to be honest haven’t been that towering. And in a further burst of honesty Taylor Swift’s love life remains a point of satisfying indifference.
A basic energy education runs counter to the monumental ignorance of the extent to which fossil fuels are necessary for a most basic lifestyle, never mind how they facilitiate the extreme buffoonery we humans often pursue (although some hobbies like playing dead don’t consume a lot of energy, others like skiing in the world’s hottest climate require some serious carbon-spewing). Our society is built to run on cheap energy, which means fossil fuels, for now anyway. Some energy basics: can’t live without fossil fuels, for now, get over it. Nothing you have could be here without cheap energy. Getting rid of fossil fuels will realistically mean burning wood in much of the world, guess what that does for greenhouse gases, never mind the scenery? And what about the squirrels?
Virtually everything you own was made with petroleum products or was brought to your zip code courtesy of them. Even organic food is either made with the use of fossil fuels or at the very least transported to your mouth using them. There is no free lunch. There would be no cheap solar cells or windmill turbines without oil and natural gas.
Name anything you use to survive and petroleum products will be involved. OK maybe you’re a billionaire who can hire hordes of migrant workers to grow your food and ram it down your gullet for you. You wouldn’t have made that fortune though without the cheap energy that fossil fuels provide.
7 billion people live on this earth because of fossil fuels and/or cheap energy – which is the same thing. Modern agriculture would be impossible without it. If you want to cut out fossil fuels, let us all know which segment of the world you want to starve. Feel free to explain your plan to them.
Yes we will move away from fossil fuels; it’s inevitable because they are getting harder and more expensive to find, and the need to have a cleaner planet is real. It will happen. But in order for it to happen, we need fossil fuels to keep the machine going while we develop new technologies. Solar power will take off for example when new battery technologies are pulled from the hat by their ears. But it will take fossil fuels to develop that technology. So minimize it, tax it, discourage it all you want, but for now, get over it. Up next will be examples of what fossil fuels do for your day, as well as the not always pleasant impact of even the greenest of alternatives.