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Fossil Fuel Dependency: Beyond Standing Rock
~ Debby Ball
Standing Rock was a wake-up call. The call went out.
Many heard, listened and responded. People started
asking what it was all about. And the awareness
changed. We are a country who has grown in so many
ways. We have developed incredible technologies that
give us greater comfort in our homes, our jobs, our
schools and our everyday lives. But for all our comfort and technological advances, we face a serious threat of damaging our environment, decimating the habitats of wildlife, increasingly putting our own health at risk, and jeopardizing a secure and safe earth for our future generations. Over the years our dependence on fossil fuels have grown to the point of, not only depleting the resource itself, but also intensifying the risk to our planet and our natural resources to a point of no return. Pipelines rupture, trains derail, trucks contribute to air pollution. By continuing our dependency on a limited resource, one capable of irreversible damage, we make a promise to our children, grandchildren and their children, that the world as we live in it now, is likely to be forever adversely changed.
I don't want that dismal promise to be one that I make to my children and grandchildren. But to know how to change this path, we must begin to examine how we are contributing to the fossil fuel dependency. Fossil fuels are: oil, natural gas and coal that are formed over millions of years from decaying animal and plants. Fossil fuel is a finite resource that not only impacts the climate, air and environment, but cannot be counted on indefinitely. Because of human contribution to climate change, contamination of our waterways and our planet, our food sources also become adversely affected. In addition to the negative implications of damage to our environment, we also face a risk to national security and national and state budgets due to that risk to our waters, our food sources and our natural resources.
The data shows that the United States is the largest consumer of fossil fuels worldwide. Petroleum is the biggest source of energy. "The United States consumes more energy from petroleum than from any other energy source. In 2015, total U.S. petroleum consumption was about 19 million barrels per day (b/d), the equivalent of about 36% of all the energy consumed in the United States." (1) Gasoline is the main source of fossil fuel based product used. We use gasoline to power our cars for work, personal and recreational use; and for trucks for transporting food and other material goods." In 2015, motor gasoline consumption averaged about 9.2 million b/d (385 million gallons per day), or about 47% of total U.S. petroleum consumption." (2) We also highly consume heating oil and propane to heat our homes, for cooking and to produce electricity in power plant operations. Another highly used product of the fossil fuel industry is jet fuel. "Jet fuel is the fourth most-used petroleum product in the United States. About 1.5 million b/d of jet fuel was consumed in 2015." (3)
This is just a small overview of the way fossil fuels are used on a daily basis. Almost every single person in this country contributes to the dependency the fossil fuel industry. We need to change our dependency on gas and oil and all things that are harmful to the environment and future generations. It is so deeply entrenched as part of our world...it is how we live, eat, travel to and from work. I get that change doesn't just happen overnight. But to deny the reality of the harm being done, the greed of big corporations and our contribution to the problem only worsens the problem. We need to look individually to what our own impact is and how we can begin to affect a positive change. We can begin by examining the way we use vehicles: Can we cut back on travel? Do we need to fly? Can we walk more, bicycle, use mass transit? Can we reduce our consumption of trash producing products? Can we reuse and recycle more? Maybe it won't happen overnight...but it can begin now, with each one of us. We must own our individual responsibility first. We must begin somewhere. We must start now.