Reasons to Stop Using Fossil Fuels

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 In News

From improving health to regulating weather to preserving biodiversity, there are many reasons to stop using fossil fuels. Guest blogger Odewale Abayomi Joseph outlines a few of them.


It was rare – a succession of early mornings in the normally sunny month of May saw thick cloudy haze enveloping the city of Lagos. The cloudiness had lingered for days.

In bewilderment, as I listened to the news on my transistor radio: fatal road accidents, cancelled flights, lapsing business activities, pangs of sorrows over the invisibility of iconic landmarks — all these were attributed to the cloudiness. Curiously, China, Rome and India had suffered the same unusual weather.

Surprisingly, many people weren’t aware that the exploration and extraction of oil and gas, indiscriminate gas flaring, generators and car exhaust triggered the billowing fog formation.

Fossil fuels pose grave health risks for individuals, irrespective of boundaries and nationalities. Fossil fuels, climate change and health are closely linked; they are inseparable entities. Climate change is an international issue that requires urgent concerted, proactive measures by everyone.

In addition to the unusual cloudiness, intense heat was recorded across some cities in the months of January and February 2016. It was the highest temperature record in a century.

Undoubtedly, this weather abnormality is connected with increasing fossil fuels burnings, and heart disease, bronchitis, asthma and respiratory tract infections among others are the resultant diseases that aren’t far behind.

In Nigeria, the UNEP reports on Ogoniland water samples revealed that ‘at seven wells, the samples are at least 1,000 times higher [more toxic] than [the] Nigerian drinking water standard’. This was arguably instigated by negligence of the area’s multinational oil companies and their long-term crude oil exploitations, disregarding inhabitants’ health.

2011_Lagos_Nigeria_5909860250

The Ogonis are at the mercy of toxic water, poisonous hydrocarbons, acid rain, degraded farmlands and oil spills. The region grapples with unprecedented pollution and its air is polluted, as is its groundwater.

An assessment visit to their hospitals would reveal the negative impacts of man-made activities. This scenario is particular to areas where fossil fuels are extracted. Considering the havoc wreaked by fossil fuels on humans and the planet, fossil fuels are perceived by many as a curse rather than a blessing.

The aforementioned negative impacts warrant the need to keep fossil fuels, like oil and gas, and coal, in the ground. Keeping fossil fuels in the ground remains the effective mitigation approach of reducing greenhouse gas emissions — there is no short cut. The need is compelling for countries across the globe to be sincerely committed towards breaking free from the yoke of fossil fuels.

In moving towards earth’s decarbonisation and a healthy life, great responsibilities lie with individuals to cut down emissions and replacing existing archaic high-risk technologies. Heads of government and legislators should be held accountable for any fossil fuels project.

Perhaps this is why conglomerate of climate activists engaged in a global wave of mass actions from May 4th through 15th 2016, with motives to keep fossil fuels in the ground and embracing a rapid transition to100% renewables. This is achievable — we deserve a better life.


Submitted by Odewale Abayomi Joseph, a Nigerian and an active climate tracker activist. He studied civil engineering at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. He advocates and writes on issues pertaining to climate change and environmental sustainability, politics and libertarianism. Follow him on Twitter @ODEWALEAbayomi


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