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Fossils Fuels Could be Phased Out “Within 10 Years”


Fossils Fuels Could be Phased Out “Within 10 Years”

Andy Rowell

As the saying goes: the stone age did not end due to the lack of stones and the oil age will not end due to lack of oil. It will end due to climate change and the coming clean energy revolution.

And the end date could be nearer than you think. According to academics at the University of Sussex in the UK, our reliance on fossil fuels could be phased out within a decade.


Unless the total collapse of industrial civilization occurs in the next couple years there is no way we get off fossil fuels in a decade.

Here are just a few reasons this is extremely unlikely under the status quo...

  1. The US military isn't looking to surrender its fleet of death machines anytime soon. Most of our navy, armored vehicles, the entire air force - all dependent on oil. The pentagon is going to demand oil be around for a myriad of "national security" rationalizations.

  2. There is no alternative way to fly, the airline industry would have to shutdown. The ramifications of which are hard to estimate.

  3. 76% of Americans use a car to get to work, and the majority of those cannot afford an electric car, nor do most have a public transportation option.

  4. The economy is likely to see another major breakdown this year or the next, thus making funding alternatives less likely.

  5. 2,400 coal fired power plants are either currently under construction or being planned.

  6. Farming is currently heavily reliant on fossil fuels, there are no real alternatives currently at play.

The best route to reduced emissions is to end this destructive unsustainable implementation of capitalism. Ramping capitalism up to replace all the fossil fuel powered inventions, by using more fossil fuels, will only hasten our demise.

A serious transition to green energy and phasing out fossil fuels might have been a great idea 20 years ago, at present we simply need to start looking at what isn't critical to feeding people and start shutting it down. Much of our industry and servile work is unneeded, people need to start staying home and working in their communities where they can easily bike/walk to work.

Essentially a radical shift in how we live must take place, and that almost certainly doesn't happen without revolution. Furthermore, we don't have time for a sloppy bloody revolution, it must be sweeping with a solid plan in place to quickly remove and replace the power structures of government, businesses, and banks. And then focus intently on reorganization with decentralized economic systems and a rapid scaling down of industrialized civilization.

I'm all for a revolution even with small odds of success. I simply would rather take a swing or two at the authoritarian assholes that brought us to this chinese finger trap of calamity than sit idly by and watch the planet die with a whimper. Organize, talk personally to strangers - be rational, but do not let the business as usual niceties of social interaction deter you from debate. Get awkward, get weird, make them think, lead them to action...Revolt.


I’m intrigued by the battling of optimism and despair, worry about solvable problems and hand-waving and ignoring of the real ones in ReaonBowl's post. It’s typical of us to think this way; it’s what comes from not having a practice to develop a tolerance for uncertainty. We have trouble because in reaching for some kind of certainty we get split between the 2 choices we know are not certain and end up usually taking one (denying delayalists) or the other (Guy McPherson) or vacillating between them according to the momentary direction of the wind.

We should all get used to the phrase "Don't you know there's a climate crisis on?"

All the problems brought up so often as bulwarks against making this transition, pale in comparison to the costs of not doing it. Some have already been solved; some are real problems but are fixable, some we'll have to find alternatives to despite the difficulty and uncertainty now.

"It is no use saying, “We are doing our best.” You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary." Winston Churchill in WWII

Although the US military has been addressing fossil fuel use more seriously than most organizations, it can and should be cut drastically in any case. A huge part of it is dedicated to trying (badly) to protect our oil supply lines, a task that becomes superfluous as we use less and then no oil (most of which comes from not the Middle East, anyway). Most of the rest of the military is dedicated to protecting the perceived interests of other US corporations and the US empire in general. The US and the world will be tremendously better off once we give it up. Reduction by half to 3/4 in the next 8 years would give us an able working force for a new CCC--Climate Conservation Corps, to set up the infrastructure needed to transform society. It would boost the economy, since almost every use of money gives a better return than military expenditures. Reduction and reassignment of the military could be a push toward the political and economic equality we need to solve the greenhouse gas problem.

The alternative to flying the vast majority of trips made is high speed rail, a US network of which could probably be in place in about 10 years, certainly completed in 15 if we made it a national priority, which we must. In less than 20 we could probably have trains getting us where we want to be faster than planes today even for coast to coast trips, and more convenient, pleasant, and with a fraction of the energy use and carbon emissions. Our entire transport system could be powered by renewables, much of it by wind and solar on the RR rights of way.

Coal burners in China are being built despite the decrease in coal use, because of utterly insane economic systems and reasons. For the insane morons at Wattsup to think that’s a reason for anything except firings and drastic changes in the economic system is, well, no surprise. Shame on ReaonBowl for citing those despicable lying sociopaths.

As Coal Use Drops, Investors Blow Nearly $1 Trillion Globally on Unnecessary New Plants
$1 trillion could provide electricity powered by renewable energy to 1.2 billion people—but it was funneled into extraneous coal projects instead

Somebody, probably not the fools responsible, will get stuck paying for those stranded assets in the usual ways. Shame on them for saddling humanity wth yet more useless and destructive machinery. But like all the other insanity we see every day, this bit doesn’t change anything about what we have to do or can do.

A combination of moving closer to work, working at home or closer to home, trading jobs as it makes more sense to work closer to home, taking alternative transportation (walking, cycling, buses, rail, even carpools, (which could instantly increase by about 10,000% in the places most people work, except people just don't want to or haven’t bothered) and EVs as a national priority (suppose the 400,000 Tesla orders made in the first month they were available could be filled in 2 years, matched by equal numbers of other EV models.)

A big reason for not being able to live and work in the same area is inequality. Part of the solution is changing the tax structure back to what it was during the Eisenhower administration or beyond, along with compensatory programs like federally mandated and guaranteed pensions, medical care, necessities.

We have a model to accomplish the mobilization we need. Monday morning, December 8, 1941, the US woke up and started to get to work on winning a war it was horrendously unprepared for. The world's 17th largest military in the world, sized between Portugal"s and Bulgaria's, was transformed by a national plan (prepared for in advance as some have prepared for today's needed transition). People gave up what they thought was a lot, but which was actually a tiny amount compared to what most people have lived without their whole lives then and now (and compared to the war privations in the USSR, for example).

Today's economy is geared overwhelmingly toward providing trivial extravagance for the richest few percent (including most people posting here); giving most of that up would help everyone in lots of ways and give us even more industrial power to harness for the transition. Efficiency, conservation, wiser and more ecological lives, and clean safe resilient renewable energy; reforesting the planet, transforming annual commodities-centered, chemical industrial agriculture to low-meat, local organic perennials-based permaculture are the solutions and all could be accomplished with a climate mobilization.

Getting people on board for the industrial US-WWII-like revolution we need is the project of: www.theclimatemobilization.org


Very true that there is no alternative fuel for airplanes and what many people either ignore or don't know is the huge dependence of agriculture on fertilizer produced with natural gas. At this point it would be impossible to sustain the present population without such fertilizer. People could give up automobiles but they can't give up eating.


People are hungry in the world because some people have too much and use their power and wealth to deny rights and necessities to others. Our numbers have nothing to do with it. Ability to feed people has nothing to do with it. We already grow enough grain alone to feed everyone on Earth 3000 Calories a day, more than enough. That doesn't even include beans, nuts, fruits, vegetables, mushrooms and organic home-grown tom kha. 30% of what we grow gets thrown out uneaten (40% in the US); that could be drastically reduced.

By eating only meat raised on wasteland and on irreducible waste, (a significant reduction for those in developed countries, especially the US) we could feed 2 1/2 billion more people at least than we do. If we similarly stopped using land and other resources for trivial, extravagant and destructive uses like industrial feedstocks, palm oil, etc. we could do some combination of feeding even more, keeping the numbers we feed high even in the face of climate ravages and allow more land to remain as and return to wilderness.. www.grida.no/publications/rr/food-crisis/page/3565.aspx

Studies of organic agriculture show that when done well, it produces as much, more, or nearly as much per acre as chemical industrial agriculture, depending on the crop and conditions. It' more resilient in the face of conditions that we're already seeing more of and will face everywhere soon, because of climate catastrophe--drought, heat waves, extreme weather of all kinds, etc.. Permaculture, in more complex systems called guilds, (like Three Sisters horticulture and Food Forests) promises even higher production (in one study at Cornell, 20% more than chemical ag.) Organic agriculture uses no synthetic fertilizer and sequesters carbon better (which means at all). We can feed the world organically and drastically reduce the harm we do to the world in many ways while we do it.

And high speed rail as part of a revitalized system of rail is a perfectly good, in fact, better, alternative to flying, and is much faster and more luxurious than people lived with for 99.9999999% of human existence, up to about 60 years ago. Even now, the vast majority of people on Earth somehow manage to survive without ever flying. Rail is more affordable and democratic, can be powered with renewables (onsite, even) and in 20 years or so will probably be able to move people significantly faster on almost all trips than they can now go by plane--if we make it happen. (On trips less than 450-600 miles it already does, and with much greater comfort and convenience.)


I don't disagree with anything you say but a transition to rational forms of agriculture cannot occur overnight, and for the present world population would face horrifying famine if chemical fertilizers and pesticide use suddenly stopped.


Yes there is, solar panels would be extremely effective on machines that fly above the clouds using electric engines. Turbines that produce power from wind of an object going 500-700 miles an hour would produce electricity although at a loss due to the energy requirements to get to speed. however in con junction with solar panels and batteries that could be charged during the day, they could recapture some expended energy at the cost of a little drag.

if the government would subsidize this directly it would happen. Also not every car would need to move to electric just the majority. In general politicians just need to get off the oil companies teats, an if the oil companies would start producing solar panels or get into something with steam cars(which use a lot less oil even if gas powered.) thwey'd still make money and We could get somewhere. They will also as you stated have the military oil usage.(and this got deleted from the original post some how)

Hell Smokey Eunich invented a hot vapor engine that even as a first prototype got 80
+ Mpg in the 60's or 70's. that would help a lot by its self, and with 40-50 years technology improvements, probably talking more like 120 mpg.

We have options, we need to start exercising them.


Which is exactly why no one, here anyway, is advocating it be stopped immediately without its replacements in place and functioning. With a climate mobilization, putting to work all the unemployed, underemployed, and immediately half and later 3/4 of the militarily employed people in the US and similar numbers elsewhere, farms could be transformed along with our energy and industrial systems.

Of course some things will take longer than others, so the quick things have to be done right away, and carbon sequestered starting immediately with reforestation and low-meat organic permaculture as well as implementation of the other solutions. We have no time left; serious effects are already resulting from the carbon in the atmosphere, and we only stave off the worst effects by decarbonizing immediately through an emergency industrial mobilization like that of the US in WWII.



You make it sound as if they're trying to hide something, which is absurd. Those permaculturalists who don't know anything about it tend not to talk about it as if they do (unlike many anti-permacultural industrial ag shills and dupes). But it's a major topic of discussion among permaculturalists and the answers are quite clear.

They're the same answers as in every other realm of human existence. We can't continue as we are. We have to change both the attitude of separateness from life, self, others and the rest of nature, (that's all redundant, since "self" covers the whole thing) and with it its main symptom we're exhibiting--the enormous addictions of the rich. We have to distribute food and everything else evenly. We have to stop eating meat, except that produced on waste, and on land that can't produce more with a plant-centered focus. We have to stop throwing out so much (40% of what's grown to eat is not, in the US, 30% worldwide). We have to stop indulging a very few rich people with wastes of land like palm oil and annual commodities fed to cattle. Livestock as used are as much a way to use up excess commodity production as anything else; a system that has to both make and destroy its products to function without breaking down is an insane system, and that's what the consumption of the rich is, especially meat consumption.

We can feed an extra 4-5 billion with what we already grow, if we just take care of those 2 problems (and/or proportionally reduce our land area or damage to land and water from agriculture). 40% of the vegetables eaten in both the US and UK were grown in gardens during WWII and Russia does better than that now. Vegetables, chickens and ducks for eggs, and even in apartments, quail and herbs and a few vegetables can be produced right away, while growing fruit trees and vines to increase that even more can ramp up in a few years. Roofs, parking lots, urban and suburban wastelands can be used for a combination of solar PV, water collection and food, fiber and material production. (Bamboo, for example; vegetable snd Angora rabbit production...) We can do all this while feeding more people than we do now, having better health for rich and poor, and having more wilderness (and recovering wilderness) than we do now. It's insane to try to do it any other way.

You may not get people who are more action-oriented and uninterested or insufficiently versed in the details and calculations of such things to discuss them but that either means they're not interested, or they're confident through reading and research or being told by people they trust that this system is sufficient if done right. Since our only choices are the end of civilization or to switch to a carbon-free system of energy and land use immediately, I'm not sure what any objection could consist of.