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Never mind future fuels - what about plastic?

Updated on April 29, 2011

What's next?

Fossils fuels are running out. There's no denying it. Even if there is any debate over whether mankind is causing the earth's climate to radically change (and I don't think there is any debate frankly), our fuel of the future remains in question. At the moment politicians seem ever keen on utilizing electricity as the fuel of the future. I don't think this is a very good idea.

Electricity is, if anything, the easy option out. The technology to create an electric vehicle has been around for longer than a petrol-powered car, so the issue of whether the fuel is here or not, well, isn't really a question. For me though, there are certainly big questions over how effective a future powered entirely by electricity would be.

At some point we're going to have to convert the many coal-fired power stations of the world over to using some other form of fuel. That's before we get on to gas powered stations, diesel engines of locomotive trains and so forth. Electricity won't solve this problem. Neither will solar panels or wind turbines. We need a far more substantial solution.


We always forget...

One thing that people constantly seem to forget when discussing the issue of future fuels is actually the other uses that we have for oil. When you think about it, a simply vast amount of objects and things in your life simply won't be possible without some sort of heavy and very real oil substitute. The vast majority of plastics for example will need to be replaced. That means that millions of pens around the world, millions of plastic rulers, millions of lamps, millions of clocks, millions of practically anything and everything will simply no longer be make-able.

Think of the economic consequences of this, and think about it seriously because its an argument that no-one ever remembers to bring up in a discussion on climate change, and think this. How the hell are we going to truly replace oil?

The industries, things, people and places that will need a oil substitute goes far deeper than just car makers or power stations. The problem we face is worldwide and affects every one of us. 

Our world has grown so quickly and so furiously that it is like we have grown too fast and will shortly be experiencing the inevitable growing pains as a result. Unfortunately for us, these growing pains are going to be very painful indeed if we don't give this any serious thought.

Now the good stuff

So far in this hub I have been quite deliberately provocative and inflammatory in my language. The good news for all you plastic lovers out there is its not total gloom and doom. When you begin to think about the alternatives it soon becomes clear that we might not be in as much trouble as I initially suggested.

Glass and ceramics are still very real alternatives to plastic for a lot of things. Lamps for example can still utilize a lot of glass in their construction. Aluminium is another option for things like holders and boxes.

However, there will still have to be wide-scale conversion from plastics to other materials.

What do you think?

What will replace plastic?

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