The world still depends on fossil fuels

The world can’t afford to keep burning fossil fuels indefinitely.   The world’s supply of coal, oil and natural gas is not infinite, and burning of fossil fuels contributes to catastrophic climate change.

And indeed progress is being made in conservation of energy and development of renewable energy sources.

But the blowback from economic sanctions against Russia’s oil and gas industry shows how far the world is from being able to do without fossil fuels.  And many of the renewable energy sources involve environmental destruction and use of non-renewable resources.

These graphics from Visual Capitalist provide perspective on fossil fuels.




The final graphic is the only one not from Visual Capitalist.

I don’t like to be discouraging.  But, as James Baldwin said in a different context, no problem can be solved that is not faced.


Visualizing the Scale of Fossil Fuel Production by Govind Bhuta for Visual Capitalist.

BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2022.


2 Responses to “The world still depends on fossil fuels”

  1. Kenneth Says:

    This is the problem with our so called political leaders. Those who know and believe that fossil fuels hurt the climate, but they suffer from a lack of nerve to talk to the people about the challenge. It is also the reason why we have not seriously considered the Green New Deal proposed by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez of New York. None of this is easy or straightforward but someone needs to make the effort.


  2. philebersole Says:

    Kenneth, the problem, as I see it, is that it is impossible to maintain what Americans consider a middle-class standard of living without burning fossil fuels at an unsustainable rate.

    The current energy crisis in Europe brought on by anti-Russian economic sanctions illustrates this.

    But the living standards of the American poor, working people and the middle class are already being strained by an economic structure that redistributes income upward to the financial and corporate oligarchy.

    I don’t think they’re up for additional sacrifice to bring about an era of sustainable energy.

    As you say, the solution has to be something along the lines suggested by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her Green New Deal – that is, to combine the energy transition with a program of social justice that benefits the lower 90 percent of the population.

    Instead we’re looking at a global struggle over energy resources.


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