The future of fossil fuels

Humanity has been used to transition from one source of energy to another, nowadays it is a matter of time for us to leave behind fossil fuels.

Fossil fuels have been our source of energy for more than a century, we rely on natural gas, petroleum and coal for our daily life. But these sources have become dangerous for the planet as their exploitation is contributing to climate change, and our dependence on them can only enlarge our carbon footprints.

This is becoming dated as technology has showed us the use of solar and wind energy, for example, can sustain our needs and they are cleaner and sustainable sources.

Nonetheless as John Scales Avery, who was part of a group that shared the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for their work in organizing the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, said "our media treat oil production and the global climate emergency as though they were totally disconnected."

Limiting oil production, as planned by the OPEC in its recent Doha summit meeting, which by the way failed, wasn't driven for the sake of the environment but for the rise of oil prices.

People condemn global warming, but their lifestyles remain unchanged. Recent records have shown 2015 had record breaking temperatures and 2016 so far has continued this trend.

The threats global warming poses are real, and we've seen the changes in our climate. Latin America has suffered from rising temperatures, longer droughts and severe flooding caused by extreme precipitation.

Scales says the use of fossil fuels should stop almost immediately if the world wants to stand a chance avoiding uncontrollable and catastrophic changes in an article for Human Wrongs Watch.

He suggests we stop subsidizing and accepting fossil fuel production and support the transition to a sustainable economy based on renewable energy.

Following this suggestion a study released on Science Direct by Professor Benjamin K. Sovacool from the University of Sussex explores the temporal dynamics of energy transitions.

In his paper "How long will it take? Conceptualizing the temporal dynamics of energy transitions" he highlights the importance of a transition towards cleaner energies as our current energy system is not sustainable in neither social, economic and environmental terms.

However he is conscious about the need for shifts in political regulations, tariffs, pricing regimes, the behavior of users besides the changes in technology are required to make this transition possible.

His study shows how past societies have transitioned from one energy source to another over time and how we could possibly do the same in the coming years.

Each transition has taken different periods of time, for example, it took electricity 47 to 69 years to become popular and crude oil needed about nine decades to pass the 25% mark of total global supply. Clean energies still need time, money, infrastructure, regulation and technologies to make a large impact in our world.

But there have been times when these alternative forms of energy have been adopted rapidly. They show a common trend which combines strong government support and a change in consumer preferences driven by incentives.

The current energetic crisis topped by the threats of climate change could accelerate this transition. Meanwhile international organizations and agencies are urging governments and private markets to accept and spur the transition on their own.

LatinAmerican Post 

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