Environmentalism, Conservation, and Sustainability: 
Part VII: Fossil Fueling and Dueling Energy Sources
Fossil fuels are fuel resources obtained from ancient plants and animals. Coal, petroleum (oil), and natural gas are examples of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels such as coal, petrol (oil), and natural gas are used to drive cars, power homes, generate electricity, cook food, and provide heat.

Many of the items we use today are made from oil. Plastics, synthetic rubber, textiles such as nylon, medicines, cosmetics, waxes, cleaning chemicals, medical devices, and even bubblegum are all examples of this.

Fossil fuels are formed over millions of years and can't be renewed. Fossil fuels are a nonrenewable energy source.

We need to use less fossil fuel to avoid running out. There are several compelling reasons for us to reduce our fossil fuel consumption. When they are burned, these fuels pollute the air. Emissions from burning fossil fuels contribute in part to our changing climate. Ecosystems around the world are being altered. The seas are getting warmer and more acidic in some areas. Some coastal areas are feeling the effects of rising sea levels, while other areas are experiencing drought, or flooding.

Alternative fuels are being investigated by scientists. To power automobiles and trucks, they're attempting to create sustainable biofuels. They're striving to generate solar, wind, water, and geothermal energy—the planet's natural heat—to produce electricity. However, care must be taken in the production of alternative energy sources. Sometimes the production and disposal of things such as solar panels and batteries, or the use of windmills cause other types of pollution, hazardous waste, or environmental damage, often creating just a different problem.

Everyone can help reduce fossil fuel consumption by making wise use of them. When you're not using your lights or other electronics, switch them off. Purchase energy-efficient goods and seal your home against the elements. Whenever possible, take public transportation, walk, or bike instead of driving your car.

Also, don't mindlessly pollute, which eventually ends up in our oceans. Lowering your fossil fuel consumption is great, but it doesn't help the environment much if you drive a Prius yet throw your cigarette butts and garbage out the window of your car.


September 21, 2023 — Debby McKnight