Why Fossil Fuels should be tossed.

by ChaiEl on February 22, 2018 - 8:23pm

The article, “Why Renewable Energy Will Replace Fossil Fuels” written by Steve Cohen provides information on how consumption of fossil fuels is causing several damages to the planet and how the adoption of renewable energies would be a potable solution. Cohen’s article is based on two polls that demonstrate how this alternative could be beneficial not only for the planet but also for us, the millennials as we are the future for our planet. The goal of these polls is to convince people that there is a substitute for earth-damaging sources of energies such as natural gas, oil, coal, etc. The problem with the use of these un-renewable energies is that they are a threat to our ecosystem, they are the reason for climate change and pollution. As Cohen mentioned, we are fully aware of the damages of fossil fuels, but in order to put in place renewable energy they need to be reliable, accessible and inexpensive, not to say that it would take years for the process of transition. The two polls results illustrated that the only group who is favoring un-renewable energies are the conservative Republicans, more precisely those who are in control of the federal government. The group who is in favor for the complete usage of renewable energies is mostly young people (our generation) as we are more aware of the negative impacts of un-renewable resources and believe that the future development of technology could help the process of transition. Cohen concludes the article by stating the dangers from fossil fuels are tremendous and that an intervention should be put in place as soon as possible. The article is more of a message for people who are fully informed and aware of the businesses and government role on keeping those energies in place as the damages done by these resources are induced by humans.

Opinion: I believe the author of this article has some good points, and I do understand why renewable energies should be put in place and even prioritized as we are more and more aware of how our actions affect our planet. Therefore, renewable energies are not affordable for everyone as it is a “new” technology, its market price is quite expensive and renewable energies can variate according to the weather. The transition from fossil fuel to renewable energies is feasible with a plan of action that can be accessible for everyone. We are all aware of the dangers fossil fuels and yet we still consume them as they are cheaper and convenient. However, I totally agree with the idea of changing the resources we use, as it would mean we are progressing and taking a step further into evolving.

Link to the article: http://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2017/07/17/why-renewable-energy-will-replace-fossil-fuels/



I chose to comment on this summary because I wanted to learn more in detail about the concrete damage of fossil fuels upon the environment. When I saw that the article was about the United States, I was genuinely curious to find out if anything regarding government policy and corruption was mentioned, since politics is my area of interest.

I definitely agree that fossil fuels should be replaced by renewable energy as fast as possible. There is no denying the harm that they cause to the environment and to humans. However, I believe that the author of the article did not elaborate enough on the influence of the fossil fuel lobby on the government’s decision making process. First and foremost, a Princeton University study conducted 4 years ago shows that the United States government unfortunately does not efficiently represent the will of the people. In other words, “the majority does not rule—at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes.” (Gilens & Page, 2014) This means that even if the majority of the population is in favor of renewable energy taking over, there is no guarantee that the government will do much about it. However, “the preferences of economic elites [...] have far more independent impact upon policy change than the preferences of average citizens do.” (Gilens & Page, 2014). In fact, “[more] than half of America's most prominent philanthropists (56%) have serious policy interests: they are seeking to inform, advocate for or against, or reform the implementation of public policy through charitable, advocacy, and/or issue-specific electoral donations.” (Goss, 2016) This is relevant because the same principle applies to fossil fuel industries. For instance, a senator by the name of James Inhofe received “over $662,000 between 2000 and 2008” in “oil company money”. (Farley, 2012) Ted Cruz, a former presidential republican candidate received nearly 700 thousand dollars from the oil and gas industry during the past 5 years, according to opensecrets.org, a website that identifies where politicians’ donations came from, for the public to see. In an article published in The Guardian in 2016 titled “Checking Ted Cruz's climate science denial howlers”, the author references some of Cruz’s remarks regarding his disbelief/misunderstanding of climate change. (Readfearn, 2016) This is an example of a politician who is skeptical of climate change, while receiving huge amounts of money from the fossil fuel industry. Finally, I have to disagree with the financial argument, at least partially. There is no denying that replacing fossil fuels will take a lot of time and money. In my view, the money is not that big of a problem. It is only a question of how it is spent. Let’s take the military budget, for example. The latest budget has the military spending increased by 80 billion dollars per year. (Emmons, 2017) Senator Bernie Sanders, however, proposed a bill that would require only 47 billion per year to “make public colleges and universities in the U.S. tuition-free.” (Emmons, 2017) This proves that some problems within the american society could be fixed or ameliorated if the government would address them properly. A better spending/managing of resources that prioritizes the people and the environment’s wellbeing could perhaps lead to a faster transition between fossil fuels and renewable energy.


Emmons, A. (2017). The Senate’s Military Spending Increase alone is Enough to Make Public College Free. The Intercept. Retrieved from:
Farley, J. W. (2012). Petroleum and propaganda: The anatomy of the global warming denial industry. Monthly Review, 64(1), 40-53. Retrieved from https://proquest-crc.proxy.ccsr.qc.ca/docview/1011089653?accountid=44391
Gilens, M., & Page, B. (2014). Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens. Perspectives on Politics, 12(3), 564-581. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/43281052
Goss, K. A. (2016). Policy plutocrats: How america's wealthy seek to influence governance. PS, Political Science & Politics, 49(3), 442-448. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1049096516000676 Retrieved from https://proquest-crc.proxy.ccsr.qc.ca/docview/1804903818?accountid=44391
Readfearn, G. (2016). Checking Ted Cruz's climate science denial howlers, The Guardian. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2016/feb/11/checking-t...

I forgot to put the link for the first source in the bibliography, here it is:

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