[231] Hope after Corona – 5 Shades of Fossil Fuel

That day, they could see the Himalaya, breath the air, and watch the for once the blue sky. The lockdown’s temporary halt of transport, trade and industry had one thing in common: a drastic drop of burning fossil fuels. Here are five reasons why fossil fuels should no longer be part of a postcorona world.

  1. Relieved People

First things first, as we could see the Himalaya after decades of invisibility behind smog, and clear skylines that were used to be blurred, we could visually see how the sky cleared up once fossil fuels stopped to be burned.

I described the impact of air pollution on health, and it obviously hasn’t changed since. Fossil fuels are not only killing or planet, they are killing us. Slowly but surely. Therefore, if we would change those energy sources for renewable energy sources, that cause no harmful side-effect we would improve our own life quality. This applies to transport, energy, and industry.

I hear the critic rising his voice about the steel used to produce a windmill and the material going in a solar panel. They are right, but it is a vain argument against renewable energy.

How much steel is used to construct a coal fire power plant, you reckon?

Obviously, it would be desirable to construct both with renewable energy, and have programs in place to clean up the sites when they reach their end of lifetime.

  1. Relieved Planet

Not only do we thrive better with less fossil fuels around, so does the planet.

When fossil fuels are no longer used to power our energy systems, our industry and transport, there are different ways in which the planet breathes again. First of all, there will be less greenhouse gasses emitted. Burning coal and oil releases carbon dioxide while gas releases methane if released in the air before burning.

Methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas. It lasts shorter in the air than carbon dioxide does, but in the first two decades after its release it is 84 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas! Methane is considered to have contributed to about 20% of global warming so far.

Methane is 84 times more powerful than Carbon Dioxide.

With fracking of shale gas – the last new favourite of the fossil fuel industry – standard 2 to 6 percent of the gas is leaked, hence contributing even more to global warming than conventional gas does. I’m not even talking about how the chemicals used for fracking contaminate local water sources and soil, and hence people’s water and food, and hence their bodies. Moreover, fracking has been stopped in various places because it caused earth quakes and earth subsidence.

Moreover, the places where coal is mined, gas is drilled and oil is pumped, are tremendously harmed by these activities.

Leakages of chemicals, the fossil fuel itself, and polluted water, pollute the air, the water and the soil. This contamination is rarely contained at the site solely, let alone cleaned up after. It finds its way through our drinking water and food chain, it destroys the local ecosystem, leaves animals and plants poisoned, and eventually poisons us as well.

Renewable energy sources don’t pollute the local site, don’t produce emissions of any kind – except for construction as discussed before – and don’t cause tricky side effects such as earth quakes.

  1. Relieved (geo)Politics

The before-mentioned consequences are obvious, the third consequence on the other hand is dodgier, but touched surface during Covid-19: geopolitics. They say money makes the world go around, but the truth is that fossil fuels do the same.

Our energy streams come and go with geopolitical strings attached.

If a country, a region, or even a company or a family depend on another for its energy supply, it becomes prone to the will of this energy provider. Europe, for instance, depends largely on Russian gas. If Europe doesn’t agree with something of Russia, they cannot speak up as strong as they want, because they know Russia can decide to increase gas prices, or stop the gas flow all together.

Australia on the other side of the world had offended China by asking them for an independent research commission with regards to Covid-19, but China informed that China can look for other countries to import coal, but Australia cannot look for others to export its coal.

If we would give up on the import and export of fossil fuels, we would release us from the geopolitical strings that come attached with it.

Within a country, it could empower communities and households against the will of big electricity companies and/or political powers. Too often on my journeys around the world, I’ve met communities living close to big power projects, but had no access to power their selves. Therefore, as well, I plea for distributed renewable energy projects, that provide local energy to be locally consumed.

A renewable energy system driven by local demand and offer, rather than driven by money or power.

  1. Relieved Energy Providers

If we have to go back to money and power, there is another reason for cutting off fossil fuels right here, right now. It is called the big fear of Peak Oil.

Scientists have been warning governments to start looking for other energy sources since they assumed that the end of fossil fuels was nearby. Since fossil fuel sources are finite, oil wells dry up, coal mines get empty, and gas drills become hollow after a while. On global scale, there was the idea that we would deplete all the fossil fuel sources at one stage in human history.

The truth is more complicated.

While many past and current fossil fuel sources reached their peak, the global fossil fuel sources might not reach their ‘peak’ any soon. New technology has made it even possible to dig sources even deeper, until the last drop, and to access sources that weren’t accessible before, enter fracking and shale gas.

But while exploring the edge of technology and fossil fuel resources, we are approaching a dangerous edge.

The risks taken to access newer sources, increase the risk for humans, and nature. Various sources are laying in essential and often protected zones of nature. With accessing them, we risk to release the beast of our greed and destroy the last nature the earth needs to survive, and hence that we need to survive.

Do we really have to start drilling the Arctic that is already under treat by climate change? Do we really have to pump deeper in the Ocean which is already polluted by our plastics and stores as much carbon dioxide it cans to prevent our earth from warming? Do we really have to frack zones under pristine forest that is already under treat by forest fires, and our greed?

And for those who really don’t care about other people, nor the planet, bear in mind that the closer to the edge the higher the costs for accessing these resources. The production cost of renewable energy is in fact already lower than the cost of producing energy by fossil fuels.

  1. Relieved Energy Consumers

And last bot nut least, we need to get rid of fossil fuels to protect our own energy security. Not only will local distributed renewable energy sources produce no harmful toxins for our health, nor for the planet, they would not come with power strings attached, nor geopolitical, nor local, nor economical.

Moreover, they would be not interrupted by a global shock and the reaction of the global stock market. It seems like the global stock market and global fossil fuel production – expressed in barrels of oil – dance a tricky tango at all times. One breathes the other. if the stock market collapses because of a financial issue, so does the price of oil; and if the price of oil collapses or increases, because of a practical, geopolitical, or diplomatic issue, the stock market sours.

And if the stock market sours, so do our economies; and if the oil prices increase, so do all our prices, not only from fuel, but from every single consumption product that reflects the increased price of production, transportation and distribution caused by the increased oil price.

Hence, if we could only cut our dependency on fossil fuels, we could create more economic stability, which will serve us all as well.

In a nutshell, our dependency on fossil fuels for transport, industry, and energy, comes with a huge dark side. It harms ourselves, our planet, and eventually our profit. By no means, a world driven by these resources can be sustainable, not for the planet, nor for its people, nor for profit.

The good news is, that we can shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy, hence undoing all these nasty side-effects. The only reason why we don’t, is the combination of strings attached to fossil fuels: money and power.

In times of Corona, when all masks fell off, so did the one of the fossil fuel industry. And isn’t awareness the first step to change?

1. Peru - lobitos - oil pumps
Both pictures of this article are made in Talara, Peru a small town which is shaped by the oil companies, on land and on water, for the good and the bad.

 

This article is part of the series of Hope in Times of Corona. Read

  1. How this too shall pass
  2. how this times of self-isolation should not mean loneliness,
  3. how you can contribute to this battle, 
  4. how gratitude lights up the dark,  
  5. how united we will stand strong
  6. on the most util strategy in awake of a crisis 
  7. how I got blown of my feet as well, but caught by many caring hands, 
  8. how being calm can get us through the storm.
  9. about Love in Times of Corona
  10. how to discover your own talents 
  11. why we need stories to hold on to 
  12. how you can be creative and innovative.
  13. how to spend your mot valuable assets in times of Corona.
  14. how to listen to the sound of silence. 
  15. How breath taking Corona really is.
  16. discover the other freedoms Corona has shown us, 
  17. about the new-born freedom Corona gave us.
  18. about another way to exceed your personal bubble.
  19. about the position of nature in this entire story
  20. about nature bouncing back
  21. about the crucial choice between resilience and resistance
  22. about the game to play
  23. about star gazing in dark times
  24. About looking for Meaning
  25. About how Music Connects
  26. about what Easter and Corona have in Common
  27. About the Shark and the Turtle
  28. About the Irony of Distance
  29. Why to Hold on
  30. Fake News
  31. about The Big Unknown we live at
  32. about Feeling Alive
  33. About turning obstacles into opportunities
  34. about what the Birthday of my nephew learned me about life 
  35. About where we should go from here?
  36. About coping with incertitude
  37. About the Great War and the Great Pandemic, and we should not forget
  38. about history’s most important message, echoed by corona
  39. How one country could rule them all
  40. About how to prevent the next Green Pandemic 
  41. about how we are experiencing a new episode of our history books
  42. about when the poppy flowers
  43. about what’s in a number
  44. masks off, how a friend in need is a friend indeed
  45. What’s Next. after we flattened the curve?
  46. how will our personal story look like in a post-corona world?
  47. why we should never let a good crisis go too waste.
  48. How Spring can happen in Autumn
  49. How to unlock the lockdown
  50. Why education matters
  51. How we can give meaning to the meaningless deaths. (rethink health care)
  52. The remarkable marketability of health, or not?
  53. the remarkable rewards of health
  54. The queeste for global health care 
  55. Health Heroes
  56. Pains and Gains 
  57. Solidarity 3.0
  58. Work-Life Balance
  59. Home sweet home
  60. Real Connections
  61. Leadership 3.0
  62. gratitude 3.0
  63. Respect 3.0
  64. Humanity 3.0
  65. Change Management
  66. Economic Catharsis
  67. To consume or not to consume?
  68. Travel the world, travel your heart
  69. Barrels of Life
  70. People, no Number Management
  71. Back to the Office?
  72. Those jobs …
  73. Economic Growth or Green Growth
  74. Global trade, global fate
  75. Act local, think global
  76. A changed climate for Climate Change
  77. Love is in the Air
  78. From Fatamorgana to Oasis
  79. From Covid-19 to Forest Fire

Or wait until tomorrow, when I’ll shine another light on yet another positive corner of this dark time.

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