I wrote the majority of this for a class I was in this semester. I figure it can’t hurt to raise awareness about the topic.
Fossil fuels are a non-renewable resource formed from really old organic matter. They’re constantly being formed beneath our feet, but it takes so long, compared to the lifespan of the human race, to create something usable like coal or natural gas that for all intents and purposes the supply of fossil fuels is finite. The beauty of fossil fuels is how well and how efficiently they store energy—there’s nothing as portable and as easily tapped into for energy as fossil fuel.
This compact, convenient form of energy has allowed people to build higher, faster, and more quickly than ever before. It has also greatly increased the ability of humans to travel. Transportation as we know it would be impossible without fossil fuels: planes, trains and automobiles all eat fossil fuels for their motive power.
Not only do fossil fuels let us move ourselves—they allow us to move products as well. We’re no longer limited to eating only what grows in our backyard or playing only with toys someone in our town knows how to make. This is practically desirable and intellectually captivating. Fossil fuels are chemical potential, but their ability to move things is why we often view them as the key to unlocking our potential as a species as well. The Internet gives us access to ideas, but fossil fuels give us access to places and resources. What more could we possibly want?