Disastrous Dependence

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The need for energy has never been more important. America has been dependent on oil to meet its energy needs for over a century now and as the rest of the world aspires to be like us, it is clear that the worlds supply of oil is thinning out and running dry. So, what happens if oil runs out? And what happens if we do not implement renewable energy sources now?

If you’ve been to the pump recently, you know that gas prices are skyrocketing. The reason for this is because there is more demand for oil and the oil supply is running out. China, India, and other nations are becoming more and more industrialized and to achieve this, they need oil just as much as we do. The modern world runs on oil, but it won’t be running for too much longer. Just like the gasoline in your gas tank, oil will eventually run out, causing not only your car, but the world, to stop. Many Republican politicians, oil company CEO’s, and ignorant people will try to tell you that all we need to do is drill more in more places, but that is pointless. The most accessible oil sites around the world, and the largest, have already been tapped and are running dry. Unfortunately for us, our economy, food supply, environment, and transportation system are all affected by oil.

Oil is a pollutant. The more we use, the more carbon we release in the air. This carbon doesn’t just float out into space. It hangs in the atmosphere and reflects heat back at Earth. The suns rays that would normally bounce off the planet and escape into space are instead trapped by carbon and other greenhouse gases. This in turn increases the temperature of the surface. If oil runs out, Republicans will want to rely on another pollutant: coal. A spike in coal mining operations and factories to process it will increase pollution and will not be any cheaper than oil is. Coal is not an infinite resource. It too will one day run out and the effects of using these sources of fuel are just as devastating as running out of them.

The world is going to change dramatically and we are going to find ourselves in the middle of certain disaster if we continue to rely on oil. The reason we are able to live outside of cities in suburbs across the country is because of oil. The problem with oil, is that when it becomes scarce, prices will get higher and there will literally be lines at gas stations. Once oil runs out, we will be forced to move closer to cities, meaning many suburbs will be abandoned.

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Another problem we face when oil runs out is a halt in food production. From the equipment that harvests our grains and corns to the boats that bring in our fish, oil is extremely important to not only food production, but it is vital for transporting it too. If we continue to rely on oil, we will face food shortages across the world. This is a terrible tragedy in the making for the 7 billion people on this planet. Another effect of using fossil fuels is global warming and climate change. It is a fact that the ice caps and the worlds glaciers are melting. Many glaciers provide freshwater for people and feed lakes and rivers. Experts estimate that the worlds freshwater glaciers will be gone by 2030. Once these glaciers are gone, the supply of fresh water will become scarce, especially in the southwestern United States. Cities like Las Vegas depend on Lake Mead but rising temperatures will speed up evaporation causing the lake as well as rivers to dry up. Without this source of water, Las Vegas could very well become a ghost town along with many other cities and towns throughout the southwest. And without freshwater, the food supply will become even more strained, leading to higher prices and more shortages.

But our food supply faces even more risk. As the stress of survival becomes greater, and the water supply becomes more strained, we can expect crops to die off either because of disease, drought, or pests such as locusts. The problem with our crops today, especially corn, is that producers get their seeds from only a few manufacturers. Even though the seeds come from different places, they all share similar genetic structures which makes all of our corn crop vulnerable to being wiped out by diseases. By 2050, approximately 10 billion people would be competing for food that is short in supply. It will be an ugly situation.

And then there are the ice caps. Ice cap melt has significantly increased due to rising temperatures. This is a problem, because the more these caps melt, the more the oceans rise. In fact, the oceans could rise several feet over the next few decades, meaning cities along the coast such as Boston, New York, Washington DC and others would be under water like New Orleans was after hurricane Katrina in 2004. And speaking of hurricanes, expect to see more of them, and more powerful ones. Because of rising temperatures, hurricanes will become more numerous and more powerful, putting our coastlines at tremendous risk. Wildfires and droughts will also increase because it will be hotter and drier. And there is more disaster waiting to happen underneath the ice caps. There are great amounts of methane under the ice and once the ice caps melt, that methane will be released into the atmosphere and contribute to the rising global temperatures. So we can expect more natural disasters and resource shortages due to our fossil fuel usage.

There are even more problems that we will have to deal with because of our dependence on oil and our refusal to switch to clean, renewable energy sources. Because of the shortage of food and water, we can expect mass migrations of humans. Imagine millions of people entering the United States from Latin America and millions of Americans moving from the southwest to the two coasts. That would put further strain on our remaining food and water supplies and could cause an increase in violence as the fight to survive becomes more intense. We can expect to see crime rise, and wars for water, food, and land increase as food, water, and energy fuels decrease and the population increases. It is estimated that the worlds population will top 10 billion people by 2050. This will require cutting down more trees for fuel and space for people to live, which will cause problems as well.

Natural disasters, pollution, and resource shortages will have a huge impact on the environment. Because all of Earths species rely on the same basic resources to survive, we can most certainly expect great extinctions to occur among many species that are already under pressure. Many species of birds and fish will disappear along with lions, tigers, bears, and several other species. By 2050, a third of the worlds animal species could disappear because of scarcity of food, water, destruction of habitat, and the population growth of humans. And there will be death among the human population as well. Mass migrations of people will bring new diseases to the forefront, overwhelming hospitals that are already underfunded, understaffed, and under the strain of little resources. You see, without oil, many manufacturing industries will simply shut down, therefore cutting the supply of resources to not only people but to hospitals as well. Doctors and nurses will only be able to do so much, and may only be able to relieve pain and suffering without actually curing the disease. Containment may be the only measure available. Because of hunger, thirst, homelessness, wars, violence, and disease, billions of people could perish. And don’t think that the United States is impervious to any of this, because we are not. It would actually be worse for us because we rely on oil more than any other nation on Earth. Therefore, an oil crisis would most certainly hit us harder.

These kinds of disasters have hit parts of the world before. Take for example, Easter Island. Easter Island used to be a thriving, populous island, teaming with resources and wildlife. The main resource that the inhabitants of Easter Island relied upon, was wood. So, naturally they cut down trees. But as the population grew, the demand for wood as fuel and building materials increased. As less and less trees remained, chaos ensued. People fought each other for control of the precious resource. Blood was shed, and people began leaving the island in droves until few people remained. The last tree on Easter Island was cut down in the 1600’s. The once thriving civilization on Easter Island destroyed itself. You may be thinking that it can’t possibly happen to the United States, we are the most powerful nation in the world. But, the Romans thought the same thing. So did the Byzantines, the Egyptians, the Incas, the Mayans, and several other powerful civilizations throughout history. We are no different. Just like Easter Island is a small island with limited resources in a big ocean, so too is the Earth, just a small planet with limited resources in a big universe.

The wealthy of course, will be immune from these problems. They can procure nearly anything for a price. Meanwhile, the rest of us will struggle to survive. A feudal system could very well establish itself in the United States. Where the wealthy of a single city will take control of that city in order to protect the last of whatever resources are available. We could go to war among ourselves. And the government would be powerless to act because who would take them seriously? With all the disasters and problems, and the bickering among the parties, the government would just collapse. And since electricity would be scarce, you can expect our communication system to collapse and our cities to go dark at night.

But we can prevent this worst case scenario from ever happening. All we need to do is stop depending on oil and coal and implement clean, renewable energy across the country and share it with the rest of the world. The potential for infinite energy can be found across the country. In the southwest, there is the potential to generate electricity by way of solar panels. Fields of solar panels in the sunniest region in America would power the entire west coast. Then there’s the Great Plains. Building thousands of wind turbines there would generate enough electricity to power a good part of the midwest. We should also utilize geothermal energy, hydroelectric energy, and battery power. Americans should also switch to electric cars, make their homes energy efficient, and try growing some of their own vegetables. Whole cities need to go green, like Greensburg, Kansas. Americans can also help keep ocean levels from rising. By turning salt water into fresh drinking water through a desalination process such as the one in San Diego, we can not only keep ocean levels normal, but have a brand new source of freshwater. The technology and science is out there, all we need to do is invest in it. Oil companies are dying out and they know it. That’s why they are charging so much for gasoline. They want to squeeze Americans for every last dime before they go out of business for good. But we must move forward with renewable energy now before it’s too late. Oil, coal, natural gas and nuclear power are disasters waiting to happen, whether it be nuclear meltdowns that poison people, land, water, and food with deadly radiation or oil spills that ruin ecosystems and food production, or fracking due to natural gas drilling that poisons the water supply, or coal use that poisons the air. Climate change is very real. Hurricane Katrina wasn’t just a fluke. It was a warning shot. Clean energy can help us in another way too. In order to meet the needs of the world, we will need to create a whole new manufacturing sector which means jobs for millions of Americans. We can protect the environment, have infinite sources of energy, and grow our economy. We need to do this for ourselves but most importantly for our children who should not be forced to pay for our refusal to give up on oil. It is hard to believe that our use of oil and coal can have such a negative impact, but if you have a brain, you should be able to put the pieces together. Everything on this planet is connected. According to the Christian religion, people were put on this Earth to be the stewards of Gods creation. We are failing in this role. We need to have vision. We need to be innovative. We need to change the way we get energy and the way we use it. This is not going to be cheap. Transforming the entire nation into a green one will take trillions, but it will be worth it in the long run and would pay for itself after a few years. We can save the environment, save our resources, and save the human race from certain destruction. It’s our responsibility to do this now, before it is too late. Our need for energy is the main cause of the worst case scenario. Addressing our energy crisis will avert most future crises. We have a defense budget that is nearing one trillion dollars and oil and coal subsidies that cost about another one hundred billion dollars. It is time to take this funding and focus it to turning the United States into the first green country in the world. Once we have done this, the rest of the world will follow our example and we can avoid the worst case scenario and write for ourselves a brighter future. The time to act, is now.

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