Last year the lovely folks over at the Western Energy Alliance sent me a stack of stickers with a message that really hits home as Pennsylvania prepares for the coldest weather so far this season:
After we posted George’s recent op-ed about just how much Pennsylvanians are saving thanks to natural gas, we got a few of the inevitable comments along the lines of: We should be using all renewables.
There seems to be a poor understanding as to what could/should/might someday be and what actually is.
Here’s the stone cold reality: oil and natural gas fuel our lives.
It currently accounts for about 33% of the source of electricity in this country, which is more than any other source. As George pointed out, even if you aren’t using natural gas to heat your home or cook with, you are using it through any point where you post a message on Facebook via your home computer, turn up your electric furnace, turn on your electric oven or watch television at night. And yes, even if you drive an electric vehicle – it’s not only manufactured with parts created from petroleum and natural gas byproducts, it’s using that same electricity produced by burning natural gas (and coal, nuclear, hydro, solar, wind…).
That’s not to mention all of the products we have every day thanks to petroleum products. Even if we were able to flip to all renewable energy for power production today, which is impossible for many reasons, we would never be able to replicate our lifestyle – let along get a new cell phone every so many years – without the building blocks of everything around us. Plastics are all around you from the light switch panel on your wall to your phone to your carpet to the PVC pipes in your plumbing. Look around a hospital and you’ll see many more products that don’t just keep us comfortable – they save our lives. You’ll see materials made of plastic and materials which are manufactured in plants using natural gas to mold steel and produce latex gloves.
This idea that we can wake up tomorrow and flip the switch to all renewables is a fallacy. You’re more likely to see Santa doing donuts in his sleigh on your front lawn.
Winter is here and with it comes snowy days and freezing temperatures. My gratitude goes to the men and women who are out there today, tomorrow and every day producing the energy we use in our daily lives to keep us safe, warm and secure in our lifestyles.