Monday, March 13, 2017

Oil at Your Fingertips

Did you know that 93% of plastics in the US are derived from natural gas or oil?

In a world where technology has found its way into the everyday lives of billions around the world, it's easy for us to get lost in all the advances and affordances technology has allowed us. Approaching this course and topic, I certainly never drew the correlation between just how much oil plays a part in the technology that continues to thrust us further into the twenty-first century. I think that recognizing the hidden impact oil has on our technology perfectly encapsulates the many hidden ways in which oil plays a part in dictating our everyday lives.

As I sit here, typing this blog post, I do so on a laptop, a laptop made from plastic and parts derived from the natural gases and oils of our planet. And as you read this post, be it on your laptop, your computer, your smartphone, or perhaps even your smartwatch, I hope that you too can now realize just how prevalent the presence of oil is in your everyday technology.

As a frame of reference, I ask that you please watch this brief video:

After viewing that video, how many of the electronics noted in the video are present in your lives? Now to put it into perspective, imagine just how many people across the planet use those very same electronics? In this day and age, it's almost a requirement for everyone to at least have a phone, but even beyond that, the list of everyday technological items born out of natural gases and oil is vast.

And herein lies our conundrum.

While we recognize technology continues to drive the world forward, at the same time, I think it's safe to say that we can certainly also understand the devastating impact that the oil industry has on the environment, people, communities, and countries. This leads to a very jarring dissonance where we find ourselves trying to reduce our dependence on oil, however this goes against the face of this global lifestyle that continues to place an onus on technology as being at the forefront of societal and cultural advances.

I personally think it's foolhardy (and impossible) for us to simply "end" our dependence on the oil industry, but we can certainly make a conscious and conscientious effort to recognize just how far-reaching its impact can be. For example, perhaps we can start to more actively look towards greener technology companies (such as Indian company Wipro, who found themselves topping the list of Greenpeace's Guide to Greener Electronics) that afford us the same luxuries, but at a lower risk of harm to communities and our planet. Recognizing that even our everyday technology use is made only possible because of the oil industry can go a long way towards helping bring awareness of this predicament on a larger scale.

We may not necessarily be able to end our reliance on technology, but we can certainly take control by adapting our ways of approaching it.


Donovan, T. (2010, June 11). Oil Is In Everything, From Shampoo To Vitamins. Retrieved March 6, 2017, from

Electronics. (n.d.). Retrieved March 6, 2017, from

Guide to Greener Electronics. (n.d.). Retrieved March 6, 2017, from

Kelly-Gagnon, M. (2013, August 28). No More Oil Means No More Smartphones. Retrieved March 6, 2017, from

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