What Would Happen When We Run Out of Fossil Fuels?
Have you ever thought about what would happen if we ran out of fossil fuels? Perhaps I should ask, have you ever thought about what would happen when we run out of fossil fuels? Why did I ask this question and emphasize “when”? Well, that’s because the depletion of fossil fuels is but a matter of time. In fact, experts have estimated that fossil fuels would only last us, humans, for about another 100 years or so.
Fossil fuels, including oil, gas, and coal, are the principal energy sources, powering applications ranging from transportation to industries. Yet, according to current consumption levels and excluding unproven reserves, this is how long we have before we run out of these fossil fuels:
Coal 133 years
Oil 47 years
Natural gas 52 years
So, what happens after we have consumed all these fuels?
Ice will melt, and cities will drown
A study published in 2015 in Science Advances states that if we burn all of the remaining fossil fuels on Earth, almost all of the ice in Antarctica will melt, and this would potentially cause sea levels to rise by 200 feet. If and when that happens, most major cities would be submerged underwater.
We will encounter a power failure
Our reliance on readily available power is far greater than we think. When we no longer have this luxury, we will become vulnerable. The consequences do not stop at the inconvenience of lost phone signals and dead mobile phones, but your water supply would soon stop pumping clean water.
Without electricity, there would be no cash machines, no lifts, no power to keep the factories going, and no petrol pumps. Ventilators and medical treatment machines will stop working, putting patients in critical conditions throughout the hospital.
It will affect global transportation and international trade
Our major transportation systems, including trucking, rail and sea transportation of goods, depend greatly on fossil fuels. Without diesel and bunker fuel, large-scale international trade would have no choice but to shut down. As international trade breaks down, foreign goods will become exorbitantly expensive or unavailable.
In fact, global transportation played a vital role in our survival through covid-19. Imagine if we ran out of fossil fuel during a pandemic, essential items such as masks and PPE would not be able to reach other countries in time.
It will disrupt the food chain industry
Food chain logistics would be badly affected without global transportation. As a result, restaurants would begin to shut down in batches. People living in the big cities might have to move to rural areas to live closer to food sources and start learning to grow food to survive.
Economy will come to a halt
When there comes a day when we do not have the power to keep factories going, many industries will shut down. When we have no more fuel to move products around, people will flee from the cities to survive. In the end, national economies would sink into a deep economic depression.
However, perhaps things wouldn’t be so hopeless and gloomy because of these indirect benefits:
- Fish populations would rebound as the fishing industry shuts down.
- Water pollution from mining would end.
- Without the ability to produce plastics, garbage production would essentially cease.
- Solar, wind and water power generators would become standard necessities.
Come to think of it, losing fossil fuels might be a painful process, but it would probably be the best in the long run. Nevertheless, we can do what we can now to slow down the depletion of fossil fuels by reducing our consumption of fossil fuels. Instead, we should switch to green energy like solar to power our lives.
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Reduce the dependency on natural resources (petrol).
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