As Petroleum Passes

A discussion on the radio a few weeks back noted that, while we are concerned about fossil fuel to power our transportation and energy needs, we will one day awaken to the fact that once petroleum is depleted we may have alternatives to provide the energy we need but won’t be able to make the things that petroleum makes. Plastics, synthetics of all kinds are made from petrochemicals. Natural gas may still be available but can you make plastics and other solids from it? So much of what goes into the things we buy, the places in which we live and the vehicles we ride and drive is thermoplastics. Plastics make things lighter yet durable and do it cheaply enough that we can dispose of  it or, in some cases, recycle it.  The upside of the passing of the age of petroleum is that we may return to more reusable materials and thus reduce the amount of material placed in landfills. Better still, bottled water may truly be in bottles, glass bottles, that can be washed, cleaned, and refilled.  But, of course, this will happen only once the age petroleum passes