Would this make our lives so much more inconvenient? What would happen to our climate? Would it help us beat global warming?
So, you probably know that fossil fuels are spewing carbon dioxide into our air. CO2 stays in our atmosphere and heats up the Earth’s surface. The Greenhouse Effect – the main cause of that climate change everyone is talking about.
The Earth is an average of 1°C (1.8°F) hotter than it was in the 1880s, before our factories started belching greenhouse gases into the air. Doesn’t seem that bad? Well, it only took a 4°C (3.6°F) increase to put an end to the most recent Ice Age 12,000 years ago. With all our power plants, cars and appliances, we humans are the main cause of today’s global warming. What if we all banded together and eliminated the use of fossil fuels once and for all?
Would this be the solution to climate change? Want to know what life would be like if we stopped burning fossil fuels right now? First off, there would be no transportation – no cars, no trains, no planes, no ships… nothing. Your local grocery store wouldn’t get fresh food delivered for you to buy. Your electric car would likely to be useless, too. Why? Just think about where your electricity comes from.
Did you know, more than two thirds of the world’s electricity production comes from burning fossil fuels? So there would be no electricity? Not quite. With one-third of electric power generated by renewables and nuclear stations, we wouldn’t go completely electricity-free.
The party would still be going strong in countries like Costa Rica, Norway and Iceland. They run almost exclusively on renewable power… so move there when you need to charge your phone. The fossil fuel industries would cease to exist, so would their $5 trillion of annual revenue. It’s not just large energy producers like Russian Gazprom or American ExxonMobil who would go bankrupt.
Millions of people employed in those industries would lose their jobs. Coal miners may want to get trained in solar panel installation. Say goodbye to plastics… and a lot of your favorite gadgets. Since plastic is made from oil and gas, we wouldn’t be making any more new toys. Eliminating a stable and cheap source of energy right now seems a bit extreme.
What’s more, it wouldn’t solve our climate change problem, not in the short term. The global warming we’ve already inflicted on our planet is… irreversible. Even if we stopped burning fossil fuels, the Earth would continue warming up for another few decades because of all the heat we’ve already produced. Global temperatures would climb – finally stabilizing at a level much higher than we’ve ever known.
Although that’s far into the future, the reality is, if we don’t start burning less fossil fuels now, the results will be pretty devastating. Luckily or not, someday we’ll run out of non-renewable coal, gas and oil anyway. Are you ready to rock your solar panels yet? How do you help combat climate change?