Over the past few weeks I personally have been overloaded with information and opinions on global warming and climate change. Whether it be in my Intro to environmental science class where we brake down the different types of greenhouse gasses and what they do to our atmosphere. Or in my Communicating Health, Science and the Environment class that I share with you all. Or on social media with how “Trump’s cabinet picks will singlehandedly increase global warming tenfold and kill us all in the next four years”. I’m kidding on that last topic but some of these headlines that I see on Facebook and Twitter are often grossly hyperbolic. While being bombarded with messages about the environmental effects of climate change and the 101 reasons that it is bad and needs to be stopped, I have yet to read an article that gives a reasonable solution to all of the negatives that come with moving away from fossil fuels instead of the overarching theme that all fossil fuels are bad and we need to get rid of them.
My biggest concern with moving away from fossil fuels is the loss of jobs in that industry. Of the fortune 500 top ten companies fossil fuel companies make up half of that list. Hundreds of thousands of Americans rely on Fossil fuel companies to provide a paycheck for them working in all of the different aspects that come with coal, natural gas and oil. Over the summer I had the opportunity to visit rural parts of West Virginia and Kentucky that have seen better days in the past. These towns have relied on coal for decades if not centuries for jobs and economic growth. Though my view of the state of those places may have been skewed due to mass flooding the week before, the towns and cities that I visited and drove through reminded me of some of the towns that I have visited in Mexico, a third world country. Many of the houses were abandoned and boarded up while a lot of the towns have lost a lot of population over the years due to the decline in the use of coal mandated by the federal government. Even though coal accounts for the majority of electricity in the United States, the country is importing more coal from overseas than using its own supply of coal with more than two thirds coming from Colombia. It is sad to see that American men and women losing the jobs that generations of people worked in only for the US to import their coal from overseas.
The Coal and Fossil fuels dilemma is an interesting dichotomy between wanting a brighter more sustainable future compared to economic security and comfortable lives today. There is no one way to solve this issue but I believe that cutting off all fossil fuel usage and production is not the right solution until we have a better infrastructure in obtaining renewable resources. The fight against climate change isn’t going to be won overnight by trying to convince skeptics through debate and rhetoric but it will be won when the economic factors of sustainable energy surpasses those of fossil fuels.