The Uniqueness of Fossil Fuels

The fossil fuels are nonrenewable. They form over millions of years by natural processes. New ones can’t be produced in our lifetime. So, over an incredibly long period of time, like in four hundred million years, the same amount of fossil fuels, which are in the world today, would form again, right? Not quite. It was only during one special time that organisms could die and accumulate altogether without decomposing until they turn into rock called coal.

We have developed new antibiotics to protect ourselves against disease and bacteria. However, in recent times, bacteria are slowly evolving resistance against antibiotics. Those bacteria that are more resistant to it survive and spread, and so the new treatments will become increasingly difficult.

The most major conflict in life is that between microscopic and multi-cellular organisms. Since plants and animals evolved on the planet earth, bacteria has been constantly plaguing us. Bacteria are indestructible. They can never be wiped out, and will always be around us. That does not mean multi-cellular life could never exist, but we, by which I mean us plants and animals, are constantly being pestered by them.

We are sometimes able to stave them off for a time, but it is time itself that aids them. Plants began to diversify on land during the Devonian period. During the Carboniferous period, seed plants evolved and began to colonize every part of the land. A special feature about these plants is that they were able to stave off bacteria, not only in life but also in death, resulting in coal.

Trees have lignin which makes up their bark. Lignin is found in seed plants. However, when lignin evolved in the Carboniferous, it was an entirely new substance, and neither bacteria nor insects, nothing could digest lignin. Bacteria that could decompose lignin would not evolve for another millions of years. This meant that dead trees from this time never rotted – just lay around there. During the Carboniferous period, sea levels were very low, and that meant that there were vast areas of swamp where forests were very dense. Mass amounts of dead wood accumulated over millions of years without ever rotting. It would gradually get buried and over time, got fossilized and placed under so much pressure that it turned into coal. Fossil fuels are formed when dead organic matter not recycled got compressed and turned into stone. Most of our fossil fuels come from the Carboniferous period.

However, it is a testimony to the sickening omnipresence of bacteria that over time, bacteria would evolve to digest lignin, and rot dead trees. This can never be reversed. Fossil fuels may now only form occasionally here and there under special conditions, but it was only during the Carboniferous period that coal formed in such massive amounts.

Therefore, all these carboniferous fossil fuels may serve as a unique heritage, even necessary material for study of the period when we could beat the bacteria off for a while. Nothing like the carboniferous phenomena will ever happen again. Although in today’s world where bacteria eat everything, if plants and animals die and are collected together in large amounts and get buried before they get decomposed, then they can turn to oil, but this kind of thing was only happening continuously and universally for millions of years in the Carboniferous. Why should this entire heritage be destroyed at an astonishingly rapid pace? Especially when as a consequence of this over usage, the earth is being enveloped in a sick shroud.

We should stop using fossil fuels, because they are the remains of this unique period in Earth’s history. This objection to the fossil fuel usage is admittedly purely aesthetic. However, this aesthetic need is great enough because never will such a thing be repeated again in Earth’s history. The next four hundred million years of earth’s history will produce a tiny fraction of the fossil fuels that were produced in the last four hundred million years, with the majority of that fuel in the Carboniferous period. Never will there be such large amounts of fuel again. So, let’s preserve the remains of that singular time and stop using these fossil fuels. Saying that the fossil fuels shall never form again in this much volume has no practical implication because we don’t know if humanity shall live for millions of years or not. But from the point of view of the whole earth and its biosphere, let us preserve these fossil fuels as these are an important part of the earth’s history.


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