Fossil fuels are fuels formed by natural processes such as anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms, containing organic molecules originating in ancient photosynthesis that release energy in combustion. Such organisms and their resulting fossil fuels typically have an age of millions of years, and sometimes more than 650 million years. Fossil fuels contain high percentages of carbon and include petroleum, coal, and natural gas. Commonly used derivatives of fossil fuels include kerosene and propane.
- This generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere on a global scale through radioactive materials and a steady increase in carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.
- It seems to me we need something like the Manhattan Project. We need some urgency saying, "Here's what we should be doing. We've got to get off fossil fuels."
- Lee Iacocca, "The Long View: Iacocca Says Detroit Is Living in the Past", Morning Edition, NPR, 26 April 2007.
- At issue is not whether the global economy will pass away. It is passing away. Rising populations and debt combined with depletion of freshwater sources and fossil fuel make the status quo untenable. The only question is whether civil society will survive the transition.
- We have a moral responsibility to help working families in the fossil fuel industry find new jobs.
- Bernie Sanders, in "Sanders Introduces Major Clean Energy Jobs Package", 8 December 2015.
- We have a moral responsibility to stand up to the fossil fuel industry and leave our children a healthy and habitable planet.
- Bernie Sanders, statement, 4 January 2016.
- To control global warming, only one solution: stop burning fossil fuels.
- Fossil fuels opened the door to widespread mechanization and electrification, completely transforming our way of life. As central as their role has been, it is difficult to claim that many of the benefits we enjoy today—whether health care, technology, scientific knowledge, or comfortable living standards—would have been possible without them. Much that we celebrate in this world rode on the back of fossil fuels.
- Everything characteristic about the condition we call modern life has been a direct result of our access to abundant supplies of cheap fossil fuels. Fossil fuels have permitted us to fly, to go where we want to go rapidly, and [to] move things easily from place to place. Fossil fuels rescued us from the despotic darkness of the night. They have made the pharaonic scale of building commonplace everywhere. They have allowed a fractionally tiny percentage of our swollen populations to produce massive amounts of food. They have allowed us to develop industries of surpassing ingenuity and to push the limits of what it even means to be human to the strange frontier where man imagines himself into a kind of machine immortality.
All of the marvels and miracles of the twentieth century were enabled by our access to abundant supplies of cheap fossil fuels. Even the applied technology of atomic fission, which came along in the mid-[20th-]century, would have been impossible without fossil fuels and may be impossible to continue very long into the future without them.
The age of fossil fuels is about to end. There is no replacement for them at hand. These facts are poorly understood by the global population preoccupied with the thrum of daily life, but tragically, too, by the educated classes in the United States, who continue to be by far the greatest squanderers of fossil fuels. It is extremely important that we make an effort to understand what is about to happen to us because it will have earth-shaking repercussions for the way we live, the way the world is ordered, and whether the very precious cargo of human culture can move safely forward into the future.
- Fossil fuels have leveraged human power and ingenuity to a remarkable degree. Their discovery and accelerating utilization utterly transformed lifestyles, achievements, and even how we perceive ourselves as a species.
Yet, one thing we know for certain about fossil fuels is that they are a finite resource on this planet—slowly developed in select locations over hundreds of millions of years and being used about a million times faster than the rate of production. We know that we have already consumed a sizable fraction of the initial inheritance: perhaps now halfway through the irreplaceable allotment of oil. So we know that this phase of the human adventure is a temporary one.