Is our love affair with fossil fuels an abusive relationship?

Let's make fossil fuels historyWe can no longer afford our love affair with fossil fuels which is why today (Valentine’s Day) is Global Divestment Day. Despite the prominence given by the media to dissenting voices, the scientific consensus is no doubt that we need to tackle climate change urgently by moving away from fossil fuels.

According to World Resources Institute:

In order to avert the most dangerous impacts of climate change, the international community has agreed that average global temperature rise should be limited to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6° F) . Staying within this boundary requires limiting cumulative global GHG emissions to 1 trillion tonnes of carbon, or 3,667 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (GtCO2), known as the “carbon budget.” We’ve already used up 52 percent of this budget since the Industrial Revolution, and if emissions continue unabated, the world is on track to exhaust the rest of it within three decades.

If we used all  current the fossil fuel reserves, we would produce many times the carbon dioxide remaining in our “budget”.  In other words, if we use all the known reserves of fossil fuels, we have virtually no chance of preventing the worst case scenarios of climate change.

We need to find alternatives. One effective way of doing this is to move investment in the fossil fuel industry to renewable energies.

The following short video, produced in support of fossil fuels, actually demonstrates why we need to take concerted effort to break up with fossil fuels.

Yes, we are in love with fossil fuels, we do everything together and we are in a relationship: unfortunately it’s an abusive relationship!

Leaving an abusive relationship can be incredibly hard. It often takes women many attempts before they end a violent relationship: they fear repercussions, they face potential poverty, they aren’t sure what will happen to their children, there are a wide range of emotional and practical implications of leaving, and they don’t know where to go or how to get out it

Leaving our relationship with fossil fuels will also be very hard, but we need to do it. Our reliance on fossil fuels controls so many aspects of our lives: how we travel, how we grow our food, what we buy, how our cities and homes are designed, the medicines we use, the way things are stored and transported etc. While finding alternatives to some of  our uses of fossil fuels will be very difficult and expensive; there are many things that we, as a society, can do now which will help to break our reliance on fossil fuels. Investing in clean energy sources rather than increasing our use of fossil fuels will help transform the energy industry, the transport industry, agriculture and many other sectors. Rich nations have a particular responsibility in leading change and driving investment, research and development.

Our relationship with fossil fuels is destructive and already many people are suffering because of climate change, and the consequences of continuing our relationship are horrendous (particularly on the world’s poorest).

Like many abusive relationships, if we don’t end it, it will be our children who will suffer the most.

About Graeme Stuart

Lecturer (Family Action Centre, Newcastle Uni), blogger (Sustaining Community), environmentalist, Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator, father. Passionate about families, community development, peace & sustainability.
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