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We need to understand that burning fossil fuels is destructive, it does need to be phased out, but it will take many decades to do so throughout the world.

I fully agree with the Green Party and other environmental groups throughout the world that concentrated solar power stationswind farms, photovoltaic rooftop panelsphotovoltaic power stationsrooftop mini wind turbineswave and tidal turbines are the cleanest known technologies for producing electricity, and that at some point within this century, these will likely become the most common sources of producing electricity throughout the world. I also agree with the Green Party and many environmental groups that biofuels are much cleaner than gasoline and diesel, and that biofuels will likely eventually replace gasoline and diesel fuel.

However, even if every politician in every government agency in the entire world wanted to enact legislation which would enable power companies to install all of these technologies as soon as possible, and if every government agency throughout the world were to enact legislation which would require all vehicles to operate on biofuels, it will still take many decades to gradually phase out the use of fossil fuels.  

People who don’t research environmental issues closely tend to be quick to blame the major oil companies throughout the world for many of our environmental problems today. This is partly justified.  

For much of the 20th century, the executives at the major oil companies cared impressively little about the long term effects of air pollution throughout the world.  Furthermore, accidents involving oil tankers and oil rigs have contributed to a lot of pollution in various harbors and seas throughout the world.

However, the executives at the major oil companies throughout the world thoroughly understand that the worlds’ remaining supply of crude oil will eventually be exhausted.  Many of the executives at the largest international oil companies no longer view those companies as being “oil companies,” they now view them as being energy supply companies.  Some of the largest international oil companies are actually converting their former oil platforms into wind farms now.  

Former President Bush II, who had owned an oil company back in the late 1970s had issued a number of statements during his second term in office in which he’d advocated for ending America’s dependency on oil. 

Some Green Party candidates, both in the U.S. as well as in other countries have suggested that fossil fuels could potentially be entirely phased out worldwide at some point in the 2020s or in the 2030s. While I do hope to see a day when the world relies on nearly zero (0) barrels of crude oil per year as well as nearly zero (0) tons of coal per year, I don’t believe that this is possible by the 2020s or the 2030s.

Yes, some of the oil companies still engage in some very reckless practices, such as hydrofracking or drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but we cannot oppose all projects which involve the continued drilling of oil.  We need to understand that burning fossil fuels is destructive, it does need to be phased out, but it will take many decades to do so throughout the world, and as long as we understand that the continued use of fossil fuels is a temporary measure until cleaner technologies are implemented, oil companies will need to continue to drill into the remaining worldwide oil supply. 

Scott Benowitz

Scott Benowitz is a staff writer for Afterimage Review. He holds an MSc in Comparative Politics from The London School of Economics & Political Science and a B.A. in International Studies from Reed...