One of the main goals of the recent Stockholm+50 event was to “provide leaders with an opportunity to draw on 50 years of multilateral environmental action to achieve the bold and urgent action needed to secure a better future on a healthy planet.”
A big part of this is phasing out the use of fossil fuels, but some experts fear that stopping the use of crude oil could be the biggest threat there is to our planet's eight billion residents. The climate does go through changes even in the absence of human activity, and those changes can sometimes have negative effects on people. But those risks are minor compared to those of a world without fossil fuels.
Ronald Stein, PTS Advance founder and ambassador for Energy & Infrastructure, explained in a recent op-ed how life without oil is not the pipe dream many seem to think it is. First, there's the fact that renewable energy is really just intermittent electricity that comes from sunshine and the wind that is not truly dependable to power society and cannot be used to actually create anything useful to society. Meanwhile, being forced to live without the products that are manufactured using oil could set us back to the horse and buggy era.
There are lots of industries that have made our lives safer, healthier and more efficient that depend on fossil fuels, including materials science, the chemical industry, energy, heating, transportation and the pharmaceutical industry. Reaching a decarbonized global status could lead to billions of fatalities from malnutrition, disease and weather-related deaths, which far outnumbers the fatalities that could be caused by changes in the climate.
Although it is true that no one should be poisoning the planet just to get faster internet in the form of 5G, for example, it is possible to find a good balance of preserving humankind's advancements without wasting resources for frivolous reasons.
It is important to acknowledge that the fossil fuel infrastructure is actually less invasive than the mining in developing countries that is being used to get the exotic minerals and metals needed for so-called cleaner energy. These activities are undoubtedly profiting green energy companies and their governmental sponsors, but they are also destroying the environment and leading to humanity atrocities, particularly in third-world countries where people already have a poor quality of life.
Crude oil, when refined into oil derivatives, is the basis of more than 6,000 products that people depend on in their daily lives that did not exist prior to the 1900s. It also powers the long-range needs of heavy machinery and equipment such as merchant ships, jets and the space and military program. These products products have helped the advancement of rocket technology, allowing humans to send satellites into space that have dramatically evolved the way we all navigate and communicate.
Solar panels and wind turbines, in contrast, may create intermittent electricity, but they are not capable of manufacturing anything. Moreover, the products needed to make solar panels and wind turbines are made using oil derivatives from crude oil.
Stein summarized: "Everything that needs electricity, from lights, vehicles, iPhones, defibrillators, computers, telecommunications, etc., are all made with the oil derivatives manufactured from crude oil. There would be nothing to power in a world without fossil fuels."
Instead of demonizing fossil fuels, world leaders need to find a way to reduce certain demands on the planet or find a replacement for crude oil that is capable of both producing electricity and creating all the meaningful products that we depend on in modern times. Reducing crude oil use is prudent, but eliminating it entirely could spell the end of humanity.