Nowadays oil is being used to produce different items. It has been very useful in the production of the many plastics and synthetic materials we use in everyday life. Oil is also used for heating and to generate electricity in homes and businesses. We as a whole have become attached to oil which allows for the industry to reap huge profits. Oil may be very useful but it harms the Earth as its the number one source of the worlds pollution and there are other renewable energies that won’t contaminate the earth like the fossil fuel industry does.
The process to acquire fossil fuels is dangerous to both the workers and the environment. To extract the oil from the ground it has to be drilled or mined up.
According to the article “The hidden cost of fossil fuels” ‘Mining is used to extract solid fossil fuels, such as coal, by digging, scraping, or otherwise exposing buried resources. Drilling methods help extract liquid or gaseous fossil fuels that can be forced to flow to the surface, such as conventional oil and natural gas’.
Both of these methods have adverse effects if done incorrectly. Over the past few decades there has been a shift from coal mining to surface mining. This shift is occurring due to the dangers associated with coal mining. From 2010 to 2013 77 deaths from underground coal mines were reported.
Additionally coal mining can lead to health disorders. Black lung disease is prominent in many of the coal miners. The disease caused approximately 10,000 deaths between 1990-2000 and is still continuing today.
Impacts to the environment have another large cost of coal mining underground. Mines that have been abandoned can fall apart which affects the water flow. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), if mines aren’t properly managed, water can sometimes flow through the mine and become highly acidic and rich in heavy metals. The resulting runoff water is harmful to the environment. On the other hand surface mining, which has been gradually used more, has both short and long term effects. For example once the mining is complete, large volumes of rock and soil are then dumped in nearby valleys and streams which causes disruption in their ecosystems and diverts water flow.
This can be detrimental because these rocks may contain contaminants which can harm the environment and becomes transported through the natural water streams. Unconventional extraction methods such as hydraulic fracking have received much attention due to the negative byproducts. Although all methods of extraction pose hidden costs. The infiltration of oil into marine ecosystems has had extremely negative implications on human health. It has been found that the toxins from the water can lead to “chronic, neurotoxic effects”. People can experience neurological problems, such as peripheral neuropathy. Additionally, these incidents lead to psychological issues, such as generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Those who are most affected by the spills have higher rates of substance abuse. It was also found that exposure to toxins from the spills can lead to problems for pregnant women and even long term adverse effects on the development of the child. Considering these correlations, it can be concluded that oil spills have had a profoundly negative impact on humanity and the world itself. The damage caused by these accidents threatens humanity’s long-term sustainability. Measures must be taken by businesses and policymakers alike, in order to prevent such cataclysmic events from happening in the future. However, the litigation against oil companies is often a lengthy and costly process. The Exxon-Valdez spill, which occurred in 1989, was only resolved in court in 2009. The political process has been no better, especially considering the current administration’s pro-fossil fuel agenda. The bottomline seems to be that the oil companies themselves must be better at preventing such catastrophes. Their accountability is essential in order to preserve our ecosystems and prosperity.
Everyone from the executives to the engineers working on the rigs must be well-trained in order to combat this critical issue. Humanity depends on it. Fossil fuels have adverse effects on humanity and our planet’s sustainability. We need to find out ways to find more green and effective sources of energy, as if we keep up these levels, our existence could be in jeopardy. This means that lawmakers, businesses, and consumers alike must make concessions and sacrifices. If it means sacrificing short-term profits for sustainability or taking a bus to work instead of driving the SUV, it is necessary for our ecosystems and our future generations.
It is time to move on from oil and to a more enlightened energy philosophy. With a cleaner form of energy, humanity can reach an even higher standard of living than what we had with oil. However, it must be a coordinated effort, spanning every continent and country. If we are all committed to a cleaner standard of living, the children of the future will be inheriting a great place to live. If we lack this commitment and keep going in the negative trajectory we’ve been on, the children of the future will inherit a mess. It is up to us to make a difference and turn away from oil. A more renewable and clean form of energy must be pursued and integrated into our society. This would lead to another stratosphere of human existence.