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The reading examined the transition from biomass to charcoal and ultimately to liquid fuel. The age of biomass relied heavily on charcoal, wood, and crop residual for fuel. Unlike the biomass fuel, the coal age introduced fuels that were more efficient, and this ultimately led to the invention of the first mechanical movers.
Our reliance on fuel has been for various reasons. We need fuel for agriculture, for transport, as well as to cool our homes during cold weather. With the introduction of crude oil which displaced charcoal in many places, the modern life and industrialization have consistently been shaped and accelerated by crude oil and other components that come from it. Crude oil has not only increased productivity, it likewise has been able to accelerate globalization. The extraction of crude oil is very important has it has changed the economic fortune of numerous countries. Countries such as Qatar, Saudi, UAE, and others have become wealthy only by their extraction, and sale of crude oil. While we are rolling in the euphoria of what the discovery of crude oil has brought us in terms of development and foreign exchange, it is also important to look at the other side of this blessing.
The environmental consequences of crude oil extraction seem to be more than its blessings. Marine oil pollution, photochemical smog, anthropogenic greenhouse gases, and economic and political instabilities are some of the repercussions of crude oil extraction. I believe the author was very articulate in his points. The extraction of crude oil has brought the world fortune and happiness, but this is at a cost of environmental degradation. The Alaska oil spill mentioned in the reading made me reflect on the Ogoni oil spill in Southwestern Nigeria. The oil spill destroyed almost all marine life in that particular region and rendered people jobless due to the loss of their means of livelihood. When the Ogoni people think about crude oil, I think they’ll see it more as a curse than a blessing due to the environmental damages it has inflicted upon them. While oil is able to start engines and move heavy pieces of machinery, it is also able to destroy the means of livelihood of people as well as pose existential threats to marine creatures.
The political instabilities in countries such as South Sudan and Libya have been linked to the extraction and sale of crude oil which has only enriched a portion of the population while leaving the majority poor. The evolution of fuel has happened at a very rapid rate, from wood, to coal, and to liquid fuel. I think we need to put the environment impact of liquefied fuel into perspective as that would guide us to come up with alternative means of powering our machines without destroying our environments. With better investment and research on renewable energy such as solar and wind, the world may be able to save the planet from more environmental damages and preserve the environment for generations yet unborn.
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