Modern humans have relied on fossil fuels for advancement. Without coal, petroleum, oil and natural gas who knows where we would be? But what we do know is that our world and the way we live within it would both be radically different.
What are fossil fuels and when were they formed? I guess most users of fossil fuels never stop to ponder those questions. Fossil fuels were formed over millions of years when our planet was much younger, long before humans came along and long before the dinosaurs too. There were vast forests, fertile tropical seas and bubbling swamps. The organic materials spawned in that long, long period of our planet's history became the basis of all fossil fuels. It is admittedly hard to get your head around such an idea.
See the twenty four hour clock at the top of this blogpost. It represents our planet's history from its very beginnings to the present day. For the first twelve hours Earth was just cooking. Any life forming was primitive and unpromising and this carried on for the next six hours.
As we approached midnight, the world that we know now was beginning to emerge. The organic growth that is the basis of all fossil fuels formed between 9pm and 10.30pm. Dinosaurs began to appear at 10.56 pm and familiar mammals evolved around 11.39pm.
Humans have only been around since 11.58pm. Just two minutes of the twenty four hour clock. Those two minutes represent 300,000 years though the earliest ancestors of modern humans evolved around five million years ago. By the way, going back to the very beginning, experts tell us that Earth is 4.5 billion years old.
Doesn't it seem kind of weird that we have put so much reliance on what remains of forests and swamps that existed long before dinosaurs stalked the earth? From that rotting soup has come light and power, plastics and fuel for aircraft, cars, trains, ships and industry. Arguably, it is a gift that humankind should have cherished better or left hidden beneath the planet's surface.
The exploitation of fossil fuels has only been happening for the last second on that twenty four hour clock.