We Can Live Without Petroleum
Petroleum has transformed the world in different ways. The world credits a Canadian geologist, Dr. Abraham Gesner for establishing the petroleum industry in the year 1846. Gesner discovered that oil was distillable element from coal, and would be separated to give kerosene for illuminant uses. After this breakthrough, other companies started extracting oil from shale. This made kerosene affordable and lacked gum or smoke. Prof Benjamin Silliman of Yale University agreed with the uses of petroleum through the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company based on floating oil that occurred in marshy creeks. The world made another milestone in 1859, when Colonel E.L. Drake, a drifter confirmed the abundance of oil upon discovering several volume in Titusville. As a result, there was more oil as companies drilled and sold to the rest of the world at relatively low prices (Dominick 55). It is important to note that different people played a major role in advancing the oil industry. These included bankers, drillers, businesspersons, hell-raisers, speculators, and horse dealers. Farmers gave their farms to drillers to explore and pump barrels of oil working overtime. However, these successes did not come without bottlenecks. For example, the industry experienced accident where the oil caught fire and spillages leading to massive losses. As a result, drillers pumped, stored and shipped corrosive oil to sites, which were nearer to oil creeks. In 1865, experts develop a 2-inch wooden pipeline, protected with the Pinkerton’s metal drum. Drillers used this pipeline for pumping, storing and transporting oil using railroad tracks. This was a major boost in raising the supply of oil, but led to challenges stemming from demand and supply laws. New oil entrepreneurs started Standard Oil Company because of stable productions, affordable prices, and reliable means of transport. Together with other leading oil companies like Hammers, Gettys, Rothschild, and Rockefellers, the firms continued to supply the world with oil and grew into leading multinationals across the globe (Dominick 56). It is evident that the discovery of oil has transformed the world in different ways. In particular, it is a pillar in social, political, environmental, and economic spheres. Thus, leading world powers like America rely on oil prices in making political and economic histories. Since time immemorial, man continues to utilize petroleum in different forms. While this is the case, it is possible that the world can live without petroleum.
Petroleum has been a leading source of energy since its discovery. This energy serves a key role in lighting, manufacture of nuclear artillery and running engines among others. Besides, petroleum has transformed world economies since they depend on oil product to advance in different ways. Other sectors of the world economy like farming, agriculture, manufacturing and mining equally depend on petroleum prices worldwide. This means the price of oil has a direct bearing to the world economies. Notably, industrialization largely depends on petroleum in a myriad of ways. For instance, petroleum is the heart of combustion engines as it runs machinery applied in the manufacturing sector. Petroleum also has massive application in cooking, lighting and heating, which escalates its demand across borders. In addition, petroleum is a key driver of globalization through social, political and economic empowerment. However, this overreliance of the world economy on petroleum is catastrophic because of the frequent energy crises. A case in point, the U.S has registered three serious energy crises in 1973, 1979, and 1990(PRNL 9). These crises occur because of stagflation of economies, resulting from a sharp increase in prices, leading to a drop in demand and consumption (Kenneth 32).
Contrary to this reliance, crude oil is a major cause of high levels of carbon in air, leading to air pollution. Moreover, oil spillages in water bodies like lakes, oceans and seas remain a threat to the ecosystem as habitats for aquatic are destroyed. Therefore, petroleum is major cause of environmental pollution as it contaminates water, and air. Largely, it endangers marine life (Ferenc and Rogner 49). While wanton destruction of the environment is rife today, it is worth noting the significance of ecosystems in the natural maintenance of agricultural activities. Today, the natural environment faces complex challenges from spillage of crude oil, usage of nuclear weapons and emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. With these intertwined effects, agriculture and other economic activities suffer a lot.
History is replete with incidents where nations used nuclear weapons during wars. Terrorists usually execute their attacks using atomic bombs, whose key component is petroleum. Top on the list of organized terror groups utilizing nuclear weapons is Al Qaeda, which destabilizes economies through damage of property, loss of property, and collapse of diplomatic relations. Besides these horrendous effects, terrorism causes psychological pain, intimidation and losses. Looking at Iraq, it has been in war for decades and heavily uses petroleum in the manufacture of its fighting equipment. These wars disorient citizens, leading a miserable life as many of the victims experience unthinkable challenges in war tone nations. We can clearly see the endless effects of petroleum in terms loss of lives, property, rise in insecurity, and instability among nations, which are always at war over the use of nuclear weapons (Sandra 4).
Scientists also believe that strong nuclear artillery could cause deadly earthquakes. Earthquakes are dangerous as they disrupt people’s lives abruptly both economically, socially and politically. These unprecedented movements of the earth stem from production and emission of energy in huge volumes. Accordingly, production of petroleum has the power to trigger the movement of rocks within the earth crust leading to a shift. Many nations, which experience earthquakes like Nepal, lose their infrastructural systems that support their economies. Consequently, countries experience economic stagnation they spend most of their resources and time in reconstructing the economy. This elucidates how petroleum can lead to economic damage and slow the growth of a nation’s capacity to offer a standard livelihood to its people. In the absence of oil, it is doubtless that countries like China and Japan would not be facing the atrocious effects of earthquakes. Minus crude oil, Iraq would not have the financial muscle to fund wars and advance its unwarranted aggression on other nations.
Without petroleum, it would be hard for terrorists to execute their missions and achieve their objectives with ease. In particular, they would lose the guts to attack stable nations like the U.S and kill innocent citizens, destroy economies, and destabilize systems in the name of war (Sandra 4). What about carbon dioxide levels in air? Wouldn’t the world be a safer place? Petroleum products, which are nonrenewable, are a major source of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. These gases have resulted into the rising levels of carbon dioxide and depletion of the ozone layer, giving rise to global warming, which affects humanity, plants and animals. Global warming further destroys natural ecosystems and marine life because of abnormal levels of carbon gases, hydrocarbons, sulfur and acid rain (John, Gary and David 12).
Even with these harmful effects of petroleum to humanity world leading multinationals dealing in oil, hold that the world cannot do without petroleum. They argue that oil is the pillar of all economic activities. For instance, in agriculture, manufacturers of food preservatives, fertilizers, plastics and other agricultural inputs largely depend on petroleum. Thus, without oil, the world would experience massive food crisis (Sandra 3). In addition, petroleum is a major element in the textile industry. The industry depends on oil in different ways especially in the manufacture of essentials like polyester products, beads, ballet tights, and plastic hungers. Therefore, without petroleum, the world’s clothing and textile industry would tumble (Sandra 3). Petroleum is also useful in production of microfilms, diskettes, computers, paints and cartridges among others. This means without petroleum, the global economy would crash with loss of jobs and food shortage (Harry 102).
From the above analysis, petroleum has a wide of advantages and disadvantages to the world economies. Among other things, petroleum promotes social, economic and political development. Petroleum guarantees the world clothes, employment, food and other basic needs. Nonetheless, petroleum bears the greatest blame for environmental pollution today. It also encourages terrorism, and earthquakes among other calamities that endanger human life. There is enough evidence to support the fact that petroleum allows people to live comfortably. On the other hand, petroleum and its products have far-reaching effects negative effects. They cause harm in all spheres of life. In addressing this standoff, governments must explore alternative sources of energy to overcome the world’s overreliance on petroleum.
Dominick, Armentano. The Petroleum Industry: A Historical Study in Power, Cato Journal, 1.1(1981): 53-85. Print.
Ferenc, Toth, and Rogner, Hans-Holger. Oil and Nuclear Power: Past, Present and Future, Energy Economics Journal, 2006. Print.
Harry, Longwell. The Future of the Oil and Gas Industry: Past Approaches, New Challenges, World Energy Magazine, 2002. Print. 100-104
John Wood, Gary Long, and David, Morehouse. Long term World Oil Supply Scenarios: The Future is neither as bleak nor Rosy as Some Assert, United States Energy Information Administration, 2004. Print.
Kenneth, Deffeyes. Current Events: Join us as we watch the Crisis Unfolding, Princeton University, 2008. Print.
Petroleum Research Newfoundland and Labrador (PRNL). Socio-Economic Benefits from Petroleum Industry Activity in Newfoundland and Labrador, Petroleum Research Newfoundland and Labrador Report, 2012. Print.
Sandra, Vasa-Sideris. Advantages and Disadvantages of Energy Sources, Southern Polytechnic State University, 2013. Print.