Preface. We are caught in the carbon trap — we utterly depend on fossils that don’t have an electric replacement. Someday people will figure this out the hard way, but Chefurka compassionately points out that there is no one to blame for our situation, and it’s not something we can do anything about.
Here are just a few ways our lives depend on fossils:
Petroleum diesel powers the transportation that matters: heavy-duty trucks, rail, and ships
Manufacturing depends on process heat and steam generated by fossil fuels
Energy to keep the electric grid up around the clock
The majority of people alive today should thank natural-gas based fertilizers, and oil-based pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides
Half a million products are made out of fossil fuels and with energy from fossil fuels
The natural gas that heats homes and businesses.
- About 90% of homes and businesses depend on fossil fuels for heat, mainly natural gas (EIA 2018).
- Generating heat from electricity today is terrifically wasteful. Two-thirds of electricity is generated by burning natural gas and coal, and two-thirds of this coal and natural gas energy vanishes as heat, plus another 6-10% is lost on the wires, so only 24 to 28% arrives at homes and businesses. It’s far better to use fossils onsite to generate heat.
Whether we realize it or not, everyone living on planet Earth today is caught in what I have come to call the “carbon trap”. The nature of the trap is simple, and can be described in one sentence:
Our continued existence depends on the very thing that is killing us – the combustion of our planet’s ancient stocks of carbon.
This unfortunate situation was not intentional, and is no one’s fault.
The trap was constructed well outside of our conscious view or understanding.
Its design came from our evolved desires for status, material comfort and security.
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