Why Do We Still Need Oil?

Climate change is a major topic in the political and scientific world. The divide in partisan leadership is reinforced with this topic. If climate change has generated such a unified understanding, why do we continue to use oil?

President Barack Obama finally decided to block the Keystone XL oil pipeline last week. A move that many environmentalists are praising may have polarized Washington even more.

The Keystone pipeline was set to carry crude oil from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. To many, the decision to vote against the pipeline came seven years too late; although these people agree with the decision. Regardless, we must look at the bigger picture here: Climate change.

The continuing use of oil is causing more harm than ever before. With more efficient and economically friendly forms of fuel available, why are we still using oil? Money. Big corporations are to blame for their investment in the industry.

President Obama addresses Keystone Pipeline at southern site.
President Obama addresses Keystone Pipeline at southern site.

Of course, the reason oil is even still relevant is due to cheap costs of production. Companies continue to ride the oil train thanks to big paychecks and the unwillingness to recognize the effects of dirty energy (Greed). In reality, an immediate conversion is unlikely and would most likely be extremely inefficient without the infrastructure in place. Nevertheless, oil will run out as will other non-renewable energy sources. What will we do then?

Countries around the world are attempting to make an impact and solve this conundrum, some more-so than others. According to EcoWatch, Denmark is receiving over 39% of its energy from the wind. Although respect should be given to the U.S. on the front of lowering the dependence on oil, it is worrisome that the effort may be expanding too slowly and too late.

In Washington D.C., many candidates or politicians with a seat are largely supported by oil companies, influencing actions and votes. There is an easy way to ensure a step in the right direction: Vote.

Photo By: NPR.org
Photo By: NPR.org

The adjacent graph illustrates that the U.S. continues to import 61.2% of its oil, in comparison to the production of oil domestically. Stateside, the country has turned to dangerous fracking in places such as Oklahoma, dramatically endangering nearby residents.

Opponents of clean energy, if they are not in bed with oil companies, exclaim the unpredictability of these alternatives. There is no grid problem with solar and wind. They are highly predictable, unlike demand, and we already have the reserve generators to deal with changes in the demand/generation balance.

The question posed in the title of this article is a trick question; we do not still need oil. Oil is something that has been used up rather quickly and current methods to extract small amounts are worrisome. While the rate at which oil is being drilled domestically is decreasing, it may be too little, too late. The truly terrifying part of this issue is that we are already starting to feel the ramifications of oil’s use in the last 100 years. And it is not anywhere close to being over.

Instead of taking a step backward, let us all educate ourselves on what is happening to our planet and put in research and development to solve the issues at hand. We are all guilty in this matter; the first step is to admit we have a problem. The next step is to take action.

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