We Don’t Just Burn Fossil Fuels, We Eat And Fuck Them

We don’t just burn fossil fuels. We eat them and fuck them. If you’ve ever eaten food or used vaseline as lube, you have both eaten and fucked fossil fuels. Almost all food is made using fertilizer, which is made using natural gas. Some food, like ‘truffle-flavored’ oil is literally made with petroleum. Fossil fuels, far from being ‘fossilized’ are deeply, viscerally entrenched in our lives. Fossil fuels are alive.

Coal is dead trees. Natural gas and oil are dead sea creatures. Coal and methane are dead land creatures. All ‘fossil’ fuels were once alive. They are still alive in the sense that they have energy. They’re actually undead. Our civilization technically run on zombie energy. We have no understanding of this because we’re so far removed from our energy system. We never see it. Which is perhaps why we don’t understand it or use it wisely.

Generally, one should be very wary of dead creatures and digging up graves. Yet this is what we are doing, wherever we find them. We are using science to find the tombs of long-dead, much more powerful lifeforms, and using their bodies to power machines. If this were a movie you’d know this was a bad idea in the first act.

Yet because we think of fossil fuels as some anodyne, distant ingredient—that just appears processed in our cars or laundered into electricity—we have no proper reverence or fear of them at all. To me petrol is a liquid that I don’t even see unless something goes wrong. I just lower my car window to pass my debit card and get a smell, which I quickly block out. Petrol smells woody, but noxious, a bit like something decaying, which it is. That smell isn’t added to petrol like it is to natural gas. You can smell that petrol is alive. But then you roll up the window and drive on. Such is the blissful ignorance of modern life. As the Stone Temple Pilots said in their song Vaseline,