Does Australia even need Crude Oil?
Crude oil is being used everywhere, and is used in things such as perfume to insecticides, from vitamins to fertilizer. It is the blood of the transportation industry, it is responsible for enabling hundreds of millions of people to travel to and from important locations such as work or education. If we were to stop using it tomorrow society would simply come to a halt. But that doesn't stop us from asking the question:
Then finally on to consumption, typically oil is turned into products such as plastics or fuel such as gasoline. The negatives of plastics have recently exploded in pop culture as the turtle killer, and while slightly exaggerated, plastic is one of the biggest polluters of the seven seas, often trapping and killing many animals who confuse it for edible food. Gasoline on the other hand, is one of the biggest polluters of the sky, once combusted in one of the millions of cars on this planet, being a form of a hydrocarbon it turns into H2O, CO2, CO, and CH4, 3 out 4 of those are harmful to humans, and specifically CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) and CH4 (Methane) are both green house gasses contributing to man made global warming.
Does Australia actually need Crude Oil?
First lets talk about why we would even benefit from foregoing Crude Oil and all of the products derived from it. First off, crude oil was the primary motive for the Iraq War ,which was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 1 million Iraqis, all thanks to our favourtie western nations such as the U.S and Australia. Iraq had a fully nationalised oil industry closed of to western oil companies and the U.S simply couldn't stand this fact, it wanted to have its grubby little hands in all of Iraq's oil for its own benefit. The U.S along with its allies invaded and bombed Iraq under the pretense that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, which turned out to be a lie. So fast forward today Iraq's national oil industry is no longer and now consists of large international firms who export all of their profits overseas, contributing to the abysmal living conditions most Iraqis are subject to the modern world. So, that is one pretty god damn good reason to not use it, but what else is there?
One of the most well know negatives of oil is the environmental impact, and it most certainly is as bad as it's made out to be. Starting with the extraction, in order to set up an onshore oil rig all flora & fauna needs to set up shop somewhere else, which means clearing the entire area to allow for the necessary infrastructure to be set up, contributing to loss of habit and biodiversity. Not to mention the risk of oil spills that completely obliterate any environment it touches.
Once oil is extracted it only gets worse, refining raw crude oil into petrochemicals and gasoline releases a long list of toxins into the atmosphere that are both dangerous for humans and local ecosystems.
|(Petrochemical plant in Altona, Victoria)|
So as we can obviously see by now is that in every step of the way crude oil has an endless list of negatives and disadvantages. But can we actually forego using crude oil all together? If so how?
Yes, it is possible for us to reduce our dependence on oil, but it would take a lot of work, and currently global oil consumption is on the rise. Like or it not, most of us live in a capitalist society based on a system of supply and demand, where supply is heavily influenced by demand. What this means is that it is on us as individuals to reduce our demand for oil based products, therefore reducing the supply and production. The most powerful influence we have is not our ballot paper on election day, but where we spend our dollar.
So how? How do we reduce our individual oil consumption? Lets start with transport. One of the easiest ways to cut down on oil consumption is to take an active mode of transport to work/school/shops. This means walking and biking instead of driving, this is not only better for the environment, but does wonder for physical and mental health. If that's not possible, public transport is the next best thing.
In terms of consumables, the best thing you can do is try to find alternatives to tradition options such as plastics and other petrochemical based polymers, or even investing in a sturdy reusable option. Reducing excessive consumption and recycling where you can also helps.
Ultimately, modern society could never completely forgo oil all together, but we can certainly reduce consumption to a minimal amount. As discussed, oil is dirty, both politically and environmentally, being responsible for some of the worlds biggest conflicts, or contributing to what may be the extinction of the human race (climate change), we should all do our part to reduce our dependence and consumption to minimal levels.