Are We Toast?

Or, Do We Have The Time And Wisdom To Protect Our Planet's Climate?

Archived Articles

Too Valuable to Burn

In the typical American house the roofs over our heads, the flakeboard sheathing, the structural beams, the floor underlayment, the carpeting and vinyl flooring, the cupboards, the paints, the pipes that supply our water and carry away our wastes; and even the insulation on our wires are all made from products derived from oil.  The fertilizers that we apply to our lawns and to our agricultural fields are derived from petroleum and natural gas, as are virtually all of the medicines and other pharmaceutical products that we take to preserve our health.   Detergents, the base of all of our cosmetics, and even "baby oil" and mineral oil are all petroleum products.  Our "wash and wear" clothes depend upon polyester fiber made from petroleum, as are many other synthetic fibers used in clothing, an other fabric products.  The tires on our cars and bicycles depend upon petroleum as does the asphalt surfaces that they travel on.

The entire range of plastics, from those used to replace human body parts to the bags for our garbage are petroleum products.  But perhaps one of the most critical uses of petroleum, in addition to providing energy, is as a lubricant. Without lubricating oils the worlds machines would simply, and rapidly, grind to a halt.  There is no substitute for petroleum lubricating oils, even the so-called "synthetic motor oils" are specially refined petroleum products.

We are now burning fossil oils, and emitting greenhouse gases,  at a rapidly accelerating rate, and at a rate that will increase as consumption in the developing nations continues to increase. The world's supply of oil is limited and scarcity is assured at some point in the future.  In fact, some of the oil-rich middle eastern countries are now preparing for an energy future based on nuclear power. 

It may well be that the it will be impossible to reverse the world's burning of petroleum; but considering that it is a essential component for so many products required for human health and well-being it would appear prudent to conserve this vital, and limited resource.  After all, how will we lubricate our windmills, hydro- and nuclear-powered generators after we burn the last drop of oil in our SUVs?  Even more critical is the role of carbon emissions into the atmosphere upon our climate. 

Fossil fuels are indeed too valuable to burn, and their combustion is too dangerous for our climate.  We must conserve this valuable resource and protect our atmosphere, or we will indeed be toast!


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