It has been interesting to read from Robert Price and his readers on Saturday ("SOUND OFF: Your toilet seat is a petroleum product (and other fun oil trivia)" and Jeff Vaughan on Sunday ("COMMUNITY VOICES: Petroleum is all around us") talking about all the products made from petroleum products, from computers to surfboards.
But who cares? The motive to restrict production of fossil fuels isn’t concerned about using them to make plastics, dyes or paints. It’s that burning fossil fuels puts greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The vast majority of atmospheric scientists think that is causing global climate change that could be catastrophic. We can restrict producing gasoline without stopping the production of plastics.
How much of oil/gas production goes to plastics? Hard to say. A British source says only 4 percent. An article in Reuters says 12 percent. The U.S. Energy Information Agency says its hard to be exact, but most plastics are derived from natural gas, not crude oil. So, Mr. Vaughan can relax — his surfboard can still be available even if we manage to reduce the amount of fossil fuel we burn.
Jay C. Smith, Bakersfield