What We Talk About When We Talk About Fossil Fuels

Last week we saw the ocean burn. It was a gas leak from an underwater pipeline in the Gulf of Mexico. I think a lot of us felt like this was a stark and sobering reminder of the future we face if we do not act to combat climate change.

So this week we will be looking at fossil fuels: What they are, why it is important for us to move away from them, and some steps we can take in our life and community to do our part.

Photo by Deepwater Horizon Response via Flickr

So, what ARE fossil fuels?

Decomposed plants, animals and other organic material that have taken millions of years to break down. These organisms break down into carbon deposits known as fossil fuels. And since we are using fossil fuels faster than we can replace them, they are not sustainable.

Oil, Coal, and Natural Gas supply around 80% of the Earth’s energy. They heat our homes, they keep the lights on in our businesses, and they move our cars. In the past 20 years, almost 3/4 of our greenhouse emissions came from fossil fuels. And in NH, we hold the second highest use of fuel oil among all US states.

Why are fossil fuels so bad?

For more than a century we’ve been burning fossil fuels and it is polluting our air, our water, and it is the public enemy number one for global warming. Releasing all of this unearthed carbon into our atmosphere massively contributes to the greenhouse gases already in the air. Land degradation, the destruction of wildlife habitats, and ocean acidification (yes, the ocean is 30% more acidic than before!) all take place with the burning and production of fossil fuels. Not only are we enabling corporations to destroy our planet, but we are actively contributing. 

So, it’s time for us to take a hard look at our everyday lives here in the Granite State, move away from convenience, and move towards action. 

Photo by United Nations Photo via Flickr

How can I help?

1. Efficiency

Efficiency means using LED lightbulbs in your home, buying home appliances with the Energy Star Logo on them, filling up the tires on your car, unplugging and turning off lights and appliances in your home when they are not in use. This kind of simple action in your home can greatly reduce your energy usage and there is always the added bonus that your electric bill will be much lower once you move towards a more efficient household. 

2. Recycling & Composting

I know what you’re thinking, this girl talks about composting SO much. I agree I do, but it doesn’t change the fact that it is important! According to the EPA, 75% of all waste can be recycled and that number only goes higher when you include composting. Recycling, composting, reusing containers, purchasing goods made with recycled material, and ALWAYS avoid buying single-use items (especially plastics).  

3. Carpooling, Public Transportation, and Telecommunication

The number one goal on this topic is to limit the number of cars on the road releasing carbon emissions. Anything you can do will help. Whether that be riding your bike, riding with a friend, or taking the bus. If the Covid-19 pandemic has shown us anything, it is that it is fairly rare that you actually need physically be anywhere. Promote telecommunication within your social or professional life whenever you can, the added bonus to this one is obvious, sweatpants! 

4. Eat Locally and Avoid Red Meat

We need to be active about reducing the cattle industry. Farming animals make up around 14% of global greenhouse emissions and the production of red meat accounts for almost half of that. Eating locally grown plants and animals is an easy way to reduce our footprint. With the growing industry of alternatives to meat this can be a simple and fun switch to make within your household. So do your best to skip the meat department on your next grocery store trip. 

5. Vote!

We need to vote for candidates who are willing to actively reduce fossil fuel use. Right now, we need real action and our elections can change that. New Hampshire sets the standard in our national elections and we can prove to the rest of the country that global warming is a bipartisan issue. We need to do our part at home and in the voting booth. 

Photo by Kris Krüg via Flickr

I know conversations like these can be overwhelming and seem impossible to change, but just remember, without action there is no change.

One Response to “What We Talk About When We Talk About Fossil Fuels”

  1. MARK CAMPBELLAugust 3, 2021 at 1:48 pm #

    Well done again Sarah. You’re an excellent writer.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.