Fossil fuels (oil, coal, and natural gas) are non-renewable sources of energy formed in the earth over the past 550 million years, typically from the remains of marine microorganisms and plants. Sealed off from oxygen and put under ever-increasing amounts of heat and pressure, this organic matter undergoes a thermal breakdown process that ultimately converts it to hydrocarbons.

When fossil fuels are burned, they release pollutants which contribute to global warming and acid rain.

The United States gets 80% of its total energy from fossil fuels. They heat our homes, run our vehicles, power industry and manufacturing, and provide us with electricity. Eventually, the degree to which we depend on fossil fuels will have to decline as they are non-renewable resources, as the difficulty and cost of tapping remaining reserves increase, and as the effect of their continued use on our planet grows more critical.  

In 1950, nearly equal amounts of U.S. residential energy came from petroleum, coal, natural gas, and wood, and relatively little came from electricity (5%). In 2018, the U.S. residential sector consumed natural gas (43%) and electricity (42%) in nearly equal shares. Similarly, the U.S. commercial sector’s 2018 energy consumption was also mostly natural gas (38%) and electricity (50%).





As Biden vows monumental action on climate change, a fight with the fossil fuel industry has only begun


As Biden vows monumental action on climate change, a fight with the fossil fuel industry has only begun

By Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis Photo by Stacy Kranitz 1/28/21
Joe Biden had long promised to become the climate president, and on Wednesday he detailed far-ranging plans to shift the U.S. away from fossil fuels, create millions of jobs in renewable energy, and conserve vast…

The Climate Crisis


The Climate Crisis

By Bill McKibben Photo by David Paul Morris 1/22/21
A couple of weeks ago, I said that the first principle of fighting the climate crisis was simple: stop lighting coal, oil, gas, and trees on fire, as soon as possible. Today, I offer a…