The Gift of Energy
This morning, when my smartphone’s alarm woke me with music, I got out of my warm bed to a toasty warm home, hit the button on my grinding coffee pot and reached into the refrigerator for the milk and orange juice. I did stop to give thanks for this miracle we call modern life.
Every step and every product in the first five minutes of my morning came to me via the fossil fuel industry. The fabrics in my life are produced with petroleum products running the factories. Many of the fabrics are themselves made of rayon, nylon, spandex and a host of other fuel-based products.
The electricity that lights and heats and cools my home and refrigerates my food comes from the burning of coal, oil or natural gas. Even if my community buys power from renewable sources, that power must be backed up by equal amounts of fossil fuel-powered plants for when the wind doesn't blow or the sun doesn’t shine.
I put on my shoes to go to the front yard to retrieve my newspaper. My shoes are made of petroleum products. The ink on my newspaper is dried using natural gas. If I read a digital newspaper instead, every component of my device is petroleum based and the shipping of that device is via airplane, rail or truck – all powered by oil, coal or, hopefully, natural gas.
Take all the petroleum products out of your life for a bit and you may as well be living in some remote part of the earth where you spend all of your waking hours trying to stay alive. Growing food without machinery or cooking without electricity or natural gas guarantees that you will not have any of the modern-day conveniences that benefit our lives and ensure our well-being.
Try this parlor game with your family during the coming holidays: See how many objects in the room at any given moment require the use of fossil fuels. Discuss how different life would be if those things did not exist.