Maybe I shouldn’t call it an addiction.
It’s really a very bad habit, because, as a society, we do have a choice in whether we continue doing it.
And as individuals some of us have a choice in whether we continue – so it’s a habit.
But others of us don’t really have a choice, so it’s effectively an addiction.
And even if we do have a choice, many of us act as if we were addicts…because with an addiction:
And so, for the purposes of this post, I’m going to say that we have an addiction.
So, to what are we addicted?
We are addicted to fossil fuels – coal, oil and fossil gas (often called ‘natural’ gas).
And, like any addict, our addiction affects almost everything we do.
And it’s starting to affect our ability as humans, as a species, to keep living.
So, why this grim future?
It’s because, when coal, oil and fossil gas were formed millions of years ago, that process removed carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere. That’s what gave rise to our planet’s ability to support life on earth as we know it. It also effectively created a giant carbon sink. We put a genie in a bottle…
Now, we discovered a long time ago that we could use these fossil fuels that we could use these fossil fuels to give us heat.
And, while there were only a few of us using a little of the fossil fuels, it wasn’t really a problem.
Then we worked out how to use them to:
- drive engines, first for power and then for transport; and
- generate electricity (by heating water to make steam to drive turbines to create the electricity)
And so we did.
We started letting the genie out of the bottle.
And our populations grew…and so a lot more of us needed heat to keep us warm.
We burnt more and more of the fossil fuels that stored so much carbon so long ago.
And that’s the main reason we are having problems with global warming.
These days, though, we know better…and we have more options to use renewable energy. 🙂
Yet even though we are increasingly choosing renewable energy, we have a long way to go…and yet some politicians and businesses oppose it – guess which ones? 🙁
Now, did you also know that coal, oil and fossil gas are used for other purposes? We use them to make things like:
Yes, our everyday lives have certainly become entangled in fossil fuels.
So…can you imagine life without fossil fuels?
No? I don’t think you’re alone.
That’s because we are seriously addicted to them.
And, addicts have problems imagining life without their addiction.
Like any addict, though, there comes a point where the addiction starts adversely affecting our lives.
That’s happening right now, as we start to experience the effects of climate change.
And it’s only getting worse. For example:
- 20014 was officially the warmest year on record (since humans have walked the Earth).
- We are getting more hot days and ‘heatwaves are becoming hotter, longer and more frequent’, with disastrous results such as more deaths and more and worse bushfires.
- It’s January 2015, and already carbon dioxide (CO2) levels are at 400 parts per million (ppm). Here’s why that’s a problem. (Hint: it’s got to do with it being about 120ppm above pre-industrial levels and only the middle of winter in Northern Hemisphere.)
- An Antarctic glacier that holds enough water to raise the sea level by 6 metres has just been found to have been melting from below, when previously scientists thought glaciers in that part of Antarctic were very stable and unlikely to change.
Yet, like any addict, we are only going to break our addiction if we are really committed to consciously making the changes needed and have help to do so.
And, just any addict, we don’t need to hit ‘rock bottom’. In fact, like true addicts, it may be too late if we do.
The question is: can we put in the effort needed to break our addiction to fossil fuels before it’s too late?
This year, I’m looking at how we can do that – and working to make it happen.
Will you join me?