Fighting fossil fuels: An exercise in futility

By Julian del Prado

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Depending on where you look, and who you ask, the Earth might be on a collision course with the apocalypse or in no danger at all. Global warming, often referred to as climate change, threatens anywhere from a four to 11 degree (F) increase in global temperature in between now and the year 2100. However, this is contingent upon how much of an effect we place on the greenhouse effect through fossil fuels and other sources of carbon release. Additionally, global warming will increase or slow based on how volcanic activity plays out in that time. We will also have to contend with carbon contamination in our oceans as carbon will be absorbed into the depths and influence wildlife.

Somewhat understandably, asking any twenty-something what they think about fossil fuels results in a well-versed diatribe against oil barons and their products. Part of this set of talking points is that we will be running out of oil in the next 50 years regardless, as we approach what is known as “peak oil.” In the face of all of these facts however, the argument that humanity should ditch fossil fuels is both pointless and lacking in updated information.

When the debate rages over whether global warming exists, it is no wonder that the discourse goes nowhere. On the left, politicians and a majority of climatologists defend the scientific merits of the computer models which predict peril for the human race. The right expresses skepticism at the validity of the charts. However, what is often overlooked is the fact that, whether or not the data is valid, dropping fossil fuels while they continue to be useful is a downright silly idea.

Fracking in the United States has already increased our supply of fossil fuels. This practice, though protested by some, has proven to be effective and arguably safe. Additionally, investment in fossil fuel by the government and investors does not mean keeping the same methods of refinement and storage which exacerbate climate change.

For example, rather than dooming the residents of coal-rich states to unemployment and stagnation for the benefit of so-called “progressive states” which can afford to invest in inefficient new technologies, coal-powered plants now store carbon dioxide. This excessive carbon dioxide is then sold to oil companies (who would also like to make money off the “green movement”) in order to amplify the efficiency of existing oil wells.

Currently, the United States and China rank as the two top producers of wind energy. Regarding solar power, we are fourth despite the glacial progress of that technology to create viable energy on a large scale. The United States is also the biggest subsidizer of fossil fuels, which makes them more efficient and gives us all something to work with while cripplingly inefficient green energy tries to catch up to our hundreds of years of fossil fuel research. Meanwhile, investing in local fossil fuels has largely succeeded in freeing us from dependence on one of the most oil rich areas in the world – the Middle East.

Regardless of personal opinion on global warming, climate change, and fossil fuels, the facts show (unsurprisingly) that it is folly to allow the energy source which has propelled humanity into its current position to go by the wayside while we work on technologies which will only provide similar results in a few dozen years.

Julian del Prado is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].