Fossil fuels create climate change

To counteract global warming, we must attempt to reverse the effects of industrialization.

Justin Yun, Writer

“It is three minutes to Midnight.” This ominous and apocalyptic declaration is currently gracing the homepage of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is an online magazine which seeks to give a forecast, a warning of the impending doom the human civilization is hurdling towards if we as a species do not monitor nuclear arsenals and resolve our “unchecked climate change,” as the homepage reads on.


The modernization of nuclear arsenals is in itself a difficult and overwhelming issue; its urgency is overshadowed by the equally, if not more vexing issue of climate change. According to an article titled, “How to Determine the Scientific Consensus on Global Warming” in the “Scientific American,” over 97 percent of scientists believe climate change is caused by humans.

After hundreds of years of nonstop industrialization, Western nations have been the largest contributor to climate change via the burning of fossil fuels. Over 80 percent of all the world’s energy derives from fossil fuels, and the economies of some of the most powerful nations depend on it. Despite countries like Costa Rica and Denmark’s revolutionary strides towards alternative energy, Denmark succeeds in generating 140 percent of its electricity demand solely on wind power. Yet, both Denmark and Costa Rica are small countries compared to the world’s largest polluters, China and the United States.


Focusing solely on the United States, our whole economy is built on fossil fuels. Without fossil fuels, or natural fuels like coal and gas formed from the remains of living organisms, most people will probably agree the United States would not enjoy the economic prosperity we have today. Everyone, from our fossil fuel-consuming behemoth of a military to corporate giants such as Koch Industries or Exxon Mobil whose empires are built on petroleum excavation, and even the everyday American who drives a car-oil is considered a necessity. As our oceans become warmer by absorbing carbon emissions, we as a species must seriously contemplate the extinction of human civilization.  

Even if every country permanently stopped using fossil fuels today, the Earth will continue to heat up and sea levels will begin to rise and pose a serious risk to coastal cities. Just an increase of two degree celsius will decide the fate of the human species. If we as a species are going to act, we must act now to stop the impending doom brought on by climate change.


The first step in counteracting climate change would be the education and proliferation of fossil fuel divestment. Fossil fuel divestment, the retraction of investments like stocks and bonds in these resources, must go beyond the Rockefellers’ voluntary decision to totally divest from fossil fuels. In order to build a sustainable society less dependent on fossil fuels, the people must demand their governments from fossil fuel giants whose influence has already corrupted the halls of the some of the most powerful governments in the world. As conservation biologist and social critic Dr. Guy McPherson famously stated, “If you really think the environment is less important than the economy, try holding your breath while you count your money.”


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