Dear Fossil fuels, It's Time To Move Along

10/03/2014 12:29 EDT | Updated 12/03/2014 05:59 EST

Dear Fossil Fuels,

I know you've been hearing a lot from me lately but I wanted to take a moment to say something that I haven't said enough -- thank you.

That's likely a message you didn't expect to hear from me but it's something that I want you to know I truly feel.

Fossil fuels have given us a lot of gifts. I recognize that.

Oil saved whales from the edge of extinction, it ushered in the industrial age, allowing us to travel further than we ever have before. Fossil fuels spurred innovations in medicine, science, fashion, communications and beyond. It employed people, heated our homes, and helped create the cities and towns we live in today. We owe a lot to oil and its important to take time to gives thanks and remember the gifts it has given us.

Of course with these gifts oil and other fossil fuels have also created their fair share of problems many of which we've only grown to know the full extent of in the last few decades. We are in the midst of a global climate crisis and burning oil and fossil fuels will only push us deeper into the problem it won't get us out.

We need to transition and we need to transition fast.

The Stone Age didn't end because a lack of stones, and the oil age can't end because of a lack of oil. Our global scientific community has been pretty clear that 2/3rds of all remaining fossil fuel reserves need to remain in the ground in order for the world to have a chance of stabilizing the planet.

Simply put, we need to keep the oil in the soil.

Luckily fossil fuels, some of your members helped create the solution. It was some of the engineers and scientists that used to work for you that helped produce the solar panels and wind turbines that are going up in many communities around the world today.

So while we need to give thanks and recognize the gifts that the oil industry has given us. We also say, with love, that it's time to transition again.

Oil may have powered the industrial age but it can't power the next. The solar age is here and its time we really committed to building it.

Like most technologies whose time has come I expect though you won't go easily. VHS kept fighting even after we had DVDs, Blu Rays and Netflix. Telus keeps trying to convince me to get a landline even though I carry my mobile phone everywhere, and hipsters keep trying to convince the world Walkman and Polaroids are still cool.

I expect that given the power you've built up over the years, fossil fuels, you're going to make the transition difficult. You're already stifling our choices, and trying to prevent your replacements from being readily adopted. You've put up ads, bought politicians, and, like the tobacco industry did before you, try to create uncertainty about the tremendous damage you are causing.

But fossil fuels, the writing is on the wall. The world is already starting to move. Some countries are already powered by 100% renewables, others are on their way. Our cars and transport are starting to be electrified and solar panels, wind turbines, and geothermal are going up in communities around the world (Bangladesh is installing nearly two new rooftop PV systems every minute).

Even some of your early supporters are moving on. The Rockefeller brothers announced just a few weeks ago that, together with 49 other foundations, they would be divesting over $50 billion dollars of fossil fuel investment and shifting it to clean energy sources.

The writing it on the wall fossil fuels, and science and justice demand we move on. I wish you'd help be part of speeding the transition but unfortunately I think we are going to be fighting each other for the foreseeable future.

But thank you fossil fuels, it will be a little sad to see you go, but its time we moved on.

It's not me, it's you.


The Planet