To the Editor:
Can we be thankful enough for fossil fuels? Remember when whale oil was used for lighting, lubrication, soaps, cosmetics, and varnish? What finally saved the whales? Fossil fuel. What saved turtles large and small that provided our tortoise shell glass frames and hair combs? Fossil fuels. What allowed for the reforestation of our Northeastern states when most trees were cut down for heat, cooking, and foundries? Fossil fuels. What started to improve air quality when wood was not burned everywhere? Yes, fossil fuels.
Let’s take a look at the many things that make life easier and more fun: playground equipment; lightweight storage containers; our phones; all our athletic apparel that is light, water resistant, cooling, and durable; many shoes and boots; unbreakable dinnerware; cosmetics; many water bottles; ultra-lite tents and equipment that allow nature lovers to camp even hanging on the side of a cliff; flat screen TVs; Plexiglas; spray foam insulation; easily replaceable car body parts; strong epoxies and glues; making fiberglass for boats, cars, etc.; coolers; interiors of dishwashers and refrigerators; “last forever” deck wood; those sturdy reusable market bags; weatherproof wicker and cushion materials; and many parts of sporting equipment.
We can’t forget all the wonderful things we get from “coal tar,” that sludge that remains after coal is burned. Not only do we pave roads and make shingles from this amazing substance, but many of our modern drugs for cancer, pain relief, psychotherapeutics, and that little miracle, aspirin, come from coal tar. All the synthetic colors for paints and materials — coal tar.
This list of things made with fossil fuels could get incredibly longer and doesn’t even touch upon the fuel energy for heat, transportation, machinery, and electricity, or their role in making windmill blades, lightweight solar panels, and carbon filters for air, water, and even kidney dialysis.
Until viable and affordable energy alternatives, especially nuclear power, are fully developed, and ways of turning plastic back into oil are perfected, oil and coal must be treasured and used wisely. Banning them prematurely could end the prosperity that makes other creative solutions possible.