A day without fossil fuels: A wonderful life?

Staff Reports


One of my favorite movies is “It’s a Wonderful Life,” with Jimmy Stewart as good ol’ George Bailey who takes the burdens of Bedford Falls on his shoulders. When his Uncle Billy misplaces a large amount of money due for deposit, George is desperate. He wishes he were never born. Thanks to his guardian angel Clarence, he’s granted that wish and gets to see what the world would be like without him.

When I hear people who want to keep the world’s remaining fossil fuels in the ground, I would love for their guardian angels to grant them that wish: a day without fossil fuels or anything derived from fossil fuels.

So, I walked through my typical day, imagining what it would be like without fossil fuels. And I’ve highlighted things that come from fossil fuels; most are derived from natural gas. Visit the American Chemistry Council for more information.

Here’s what I envision:

I wake up when the sun rises – late. Without electricity there’s no alarm clock or cell phone to get me out of bed. It was a long night of sweating since the air conditioning wasn’t working and there’s no insulation in the house. And I missed my pillow. I step barefoot on a wood floor without a carpet or rug.

I take a shower but can’t dry my hair without a hairdryer and most of my makeup is missing. My clothing and shoe selection is pretty limited. I’m having trouble seeing without my contacts or eye glasses. I miss my panty hose (just kidding – I hate panty hose). I need to run a load of laundry, but there’s no detergent. My son takes out the trash in brown paper bags that are leaking all over the floor. Wish I had those trash bags my son’s school sells as a fundraiser.

For my son’s lunch, I pack his sandwich, chips and cherries in a glass container that I worry will break into shards and cut him. I wish I had plastic baggies or a Tupperware container – same with his reusable water bottle that doesn’t exist.

We get in the car that’s missing major components like the bumper, tires, interior panels, seat cushions, the gas tank, dashboard, floor mats, seat belts, air bags, wires, cables and gasoline. By the way, all of these things help make our vehicles lighter and more fuel efficient so we reduce emissions.

We decide to ride our bikes, without helmets, which goes against my warnings since he was old enough to ride.

I have some trouble getting past the security guards without my badge. My office is pretty empty without my computer, docking station, phone, desk, mouse, keyboard, pens, chair and carpet.

At lunch, I visit a friend at the hospital. Without fossil fuels, there’s no sterilized packaging, syringes, IVs, surgeon’s gloves, catheters, MRI machines, pill bottles. Forget heart valves, artificial hips, hearing aids and artificial limbs. To my knowledge, the sun, wind and water can’t be processed to produce these life-saving plastics.

At the end of the day, I hope people understand that cheap, clean, abundant, domestically produced natural gas – as the cleanest of fossil fuels – allows industry and power generators to invest more in renewables like wind, solar and hydro, while keeping prices low for consumers.

I agree with President Obama’s senior advisor on science and technology, Dr. John Holdren. Dr. Holdren said it’s unrealistic to leave all the remaining fossil fuels in the ground “because the U.S. — and the world — still depend on fossil fuels for more than 80 percent of all the primary energy we use. It’s not practical or affordable to replace the huge, fossil-fuel infrastructure with nuclear and renewables overnight, no matter how badly we may want to.” (Washington Post, July 12)

In the movie, George Bailey’s eyes were opened by a glimpse of Bedford Falls without his existence.

I hope those who want to keep fossil fuels in the ground can open their eyes to the tremendous benefits these resources bring to our lives every day – things we often take for granted.


Sara Delgado, a communications specialist and 19-year Williams employee, wrote this post. This is part of an occasional series called #Natgas Mom.