It is clear from multiple studies that fossil fuels have resulted in a reduction in the protective ozone layer of the earth. Burning coal and primitive oils has also polluted our air. In addition, mining for these fossil fuels has resulted in damage to our physical environment by reducing land available for farming and by polluting rivers, streams, and lakes. We must instead develop alternative sources of renewable energy: including solar power, wind power, and hydroelectric power.
The age of fossil fuels needs to end. It helped improve lives and it devastated large parts of the environment. Humans have the amazing power of critical thinking so surely we can come up with some other source of energy. Despite the planned flights to Mars, we need to understand that this is the only planet we have and we need to save it.
The underlying premise in this argument is the need for growth and how to achieve this with reduced or no fossil fuels. The premise is wrong. There can be no such thing as perpetual growth on a finite planet - it is logically and scientifically impossible. lThere is not only the problem with fossil fuels, whereas there are many other limits to growth - food, raw materials, ocean depletion, water, space for people and wildlife etc. Abandoning the use of fossil fuels may actually turn out to be the easiest of these issues to deal with.
People invariably say some thing like "surely we can come up with some other source of energy "-- as if energy is the only reason we need fossil fuel. As a scientist I've grimaced at this comment a thousand times, hearing it from (almost always) a non-scientist family member, or acquaintance, or some "expert" in the media. These people are truly clueless -- living only through the work of others; which they neither understand, nor could duplicate.
They usually want some form of electric energy, right? Show how would we: 1) insulate the electric wires? (this comes from oil), 2) mine the metals and minerals needed to build the power plants, distribution lines, roads, and even the actual devices to power? (completely impossible using electric only power), 3) replace the other products (i.E. Practically every man-made thing) that either comes from a mine or is pumped from an oil well? And so on.......This could be a very long list.
The fact is we are probably hundreds of years from not needing fossil fuels at all. It is a stage we need to evolve through to move on as a species.
The world should not get rid of fossil fuels. Right now fossil fuels are the most reliable energy source we have to power our factories, keep the lights on, keep our economies running. Getting rid of fossil fuels would devastate the global economy - plunging the world into an economic depression.