Petroleum is omnipresent, and the construct of our social system causes a solid dependency. In future the world we know won’t be the same, not only but also because petroleum is a finite resource with a negative impact on the environment and we could reach a global peek during the next 50 years.
But what would be different and which alternatives do we need?
We all use petroleum directly or indirectly every day. Its presence in products such as medicine, lipsticks, fuel, plastics, clothing, tires or roads and various areas of life ends up in a huge demand that grows about one million barrels each year. In future this need of electricity could be replaced with smarter and greener solutions and a mix of renewable energy.
Here you find more abour fossil fuels and its alternatives.
Where does petroleum come from?
As small marine animals and organisms died, they slowly sank to the bottom of the sea. Over several million years under a layer of sand and sediments, as well as under high pressure and temperatures, the raw material that accompanies us until today in many areas of life was created.
Why did oil become so popular?
Petroleum has a high energy density and the combustion was relatively clean compared to coal. It is a commodity that is versatile and relatively cheap. As a result, the raw material in human development has taken us a long way, become a major factor in the economy, but also the trigger for wars.
Impact on the environment
Where greenhouse gases such as CO2 are produced by the mining, transport and use of oil, climate change and global problems are not long in coming. There it is now and presents us challenges that we must meet united as humanity.
Every step in the extraction of oil has a negative impact on nature. When accidents occur, such as on the Deepwater Horizon platform in 2010, the lives of many animals and the health of ecosystems are at stake and nature struggles to recover.
Through the oil slick that lays over the water stifles animals, and microorganisms starve because no light and oxygen passes through the oil layer. These losses then affect the rest of the food chain, right down to us humans.
Is it time for an end to the petroleum age?
We humans learn through mistakes and through this we develop further. Meanwhile, the raw material crude oil has served us for decades and much good but also damage has arisen.
Today we face quite different challenges than at the beginning of the 20th century. Issues such as population growth and climate change are high on the list of priorities these days. People around the world are already working to replace the black gold liter for liter.
What it takes is investing in research and clean energy and alternative fuels for aircraft, cars and ships. Equally important, however, is the willingness of society to support the changeover and to work in concert so that alternative methods such as solar thermal energy can prevail in the heating sector.
Petroleum is a prime example of how a resource affects not just the environment but all sectors. Pros and cons indicate that oil will become less important in the future and we will find other ways to replace the resource.
However, a change like this needs time and functioning social systems. Step by step, we can prepare for it, pave the way for something new and consciously choose alternatives.
People overcome the greatest distances to distribute precious oil across the globe, so we dig deeper and deeper into the upper crust to get to the black gold. It benefits the economy and enables technology and development, but with major impacts on environment.