Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Dangers of Petrochemicals

The biggest source of pollution comes from the use of petrochemicals, which causes both environmental damage and damage to the earth’s inhabitants. A non-renewable resource, the use of petrochemicals is so pervasive in our lives that the removal of them overnight would result in an unrecognizable world. Petrochemicals heat our homes and transport people and products. Plastic products are derived from petrochemicals. Many cleaning supplies, paint, clothing, furniture, building materials, packaging materials, toys, carpeting, appliances, automobiles, planes, trucks, makeup, grooming products, soap, detergent and pesticides contain petrochemicals and require the use of them during the manufacturing process.

Almost all chemicals in use today are derived from petrochemicals. During the manufacturing process, most petrochemicals are combined with chlorine—an extremely dangerous chemical. Chlorine produces toxic emissions and contaminating wastes. Chlorine continues to pollute when disposed of, as the wastes emit further atmospheric, liquid and solid toxic waste.

Saudi Arabia claims that they can keep up with the increasing demand for the next fifty years, but many experts think this is impossible. These experts, although still a minority in the oil world, argue that the geological challenges inherent in extracting oil and the limits of modern technology will soon make it impossible to extract enough oil for the world’s needs. So while there may be oil available, it can become impossible, or at the very least extremely expensive to extract from the earth.

Chevron, the second-largest American oil company, is actually talking to the public about the problem. A series of ads running in 2005 read: “One thing is clear; the era of easy oil is over.”

Once consumption exceeds production, the price of a barrel of oil could soar into the triple digits. A result of exorbitant prices for transport fuels and for products made out of or by petrochemicals would probably lead to a global recession.

Nobody knows how long oil will last and the Saudis refuse to substantiate how much oil reserves they really have. Few politicians talk about the fact that eventually oil will run out—and that there will be catastrophic consequences unless we come up with viable alternatives to the use of petrochemicals. It is estimated that world’s oil will last until 2050, natural gas to 2030 and coal until 2200.

Excerpt from

Harmonious Environment, copyright 2007

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