Climate change is one of the greatest health threats of the 21st century and air pollution is the single largest environmental health risk, according to the World Health Organization. Simultaneously, noncommunicable diseases caused by exposure to harmful environments, constitute the fastest growing global health concerns. (1) While scientists worldwide preach about our growing need to shift to renewable energy, let’s take a moment to really understand the impact fossil fuels are having on the environment and our health. (2)
Here are 5 reasons fossil fuels are destroying mankind and the environment, and why renewable energy is the key to our survival.
Burning coal, crude oil, and natural gas instead of using solar energy lead to substantial air pollution. When coal is burned, sulfur dioxide is produced and these harmful emissions have been linked to respiratory problems such as asthma, congestion, and pulmonary inflammation. In fact, to put this global health concern into perspective, air pollution kills seven million people each year, with 9 out of 10 people breathing life-threatening air on a daily basis. When humans breathe in this polluted air, they will have an increased risk of stroke, heart disease chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, and acute respiratory infections. (3) If we were to switch to a renewable energy source such as solar energy, just imagine how many lives we could save!
You only have to think of recent oil spills, to see the devastating impact fossil fuels can have on sea life. On Feb 22, 2021, a mysterious oil spill was reported in the news off the coast of Israel. The Israeli government urged people to avoid 119 miles of coastline. Reuters reported that a whale had washed up dead on the Israeli coast and the National Sea Turtle Rescue Centre reported birds and sea turtles had been found covered in sticky tar. (4)
Apart from environmental destruction, let’s now consider fossil fuel water pollution and the impacts on human life. When fossil fuels are mined, the manufacturing process can disrupt the environment and cause water pollution, as chemicals and manufacturing bi-products run into streams, lakes, rivers, and the sea. When waterways, water sources, and groundwater are contaminated with heavy metals, radioactive materials, and other pollutants, this can cause serious and life-threatening conditions. From cancer and birth defects to neurological damage. (5)
The truth is, if we continue to rely on fossil fuels, you might as well wave goodbye to polar bears, whales, and seals. As fossil fuels contribute to climate change and as a result, the polar ice caps start to melt, the beautiful Arctic world that many creatures call home is not going to be around much longer. Not only are animals at risk from oil spills and water pollution, but by burning fossil fuels instead of using a renewable energy source, we are destroying their habitats and delicate ecosystems too. (6)
While this is a lot of doom and gloom, the good news is we already have a renewable energy source to switch to. Solar energy is a remarkable power that has the least negative impact on the environment and health. Unlike fossil fuels it doesn’t emit greenhouse gasses, it won’t cause air pollution or oil spills, and it is highly efficient as a sustainable and renewable energy source. With the ability to save consumers a lot of money on their energy bills, governments are now urging homeowners to install solar energy panels on their roofs. So why not become self-sufficient and combat climate change with this incredible renewable energy source and save the environment, mankind, and the animal kingdom while you’re at it!