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Can we live without oil?
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We have no viable non-oil substitutes for products fundamental to society

Car fuel isn’t the only thing made of oil. Household items and apparel can be made from oil as well. Dresses, cassettes, and bicycle tires are all made from petroleum and these show that the use of oil is so ingrained in modern society that it cannot simply be abolished.

The Argument

Oil isn’t always used to make gasoline for cars. It is fundamental to society because almost everything that we use on a daily basis is composed of oil. Oil can make wax candles, crayons, polyester shirts, and even toothbrushes.[1] To keep making these necessary products, oil should remain as a societal necessity. Oil has been described as the lifeline or bloodline of quite a few industries. To put this into perspective, let's examine an industry that all of us are undeniably connected with: the clothing industry. The $1.5 trillion fashion industry produces 2/3 of all its clothes using fossil fuel synthetics (which is practically man-made oil).[2] Polyester, Acrylic, Nylon, Spandex, and Acetate are all made from oil.[3] This shows just how deeply rooted our economy and daily lives are on oil, and reverting to some other substitute would bring tremendous harm to many industries. Not only is oil so important for industries and the broader society but it also creates millions of jobs all around the world. According to PwC, 9.8 million jobs are created every year by the oil and natural gas industry.[4] This constitutes almost 6% of the total US employment. Not only is oil essential for the products that drive society, but it is also responsible for the jobs and the well-being of millions of individuals and families worldwide.

Counter arguments

Burning oil has a negative impact on the environment. Carbon dioxide, which is made from oil, causes global warming and erodes the earth’s atmosphere.[5] It would be best if it wasn’t used at all. There need to be alternatives. Although products such as clothes are known to be made from oil, there are many other natural and synthetic products ranging from silk to wool to eco-friendly clothing brands that do not use any oil. As for plastics, plenty of other substitutes exist to serve the same purpose. Ultimately, the question comes down to how much can we reduce our usage of oil and oil-based products. As of today in modern society, there might not be a way to live completely "oil free". But there are plenty of alternatives to daily products that can significantly reduce our reliance on oil, and such societal initiatives will drive more research into finding substitutes for oil itself.



[P1] Oil is necessary to keep the production of these products going.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Oil can be substituted by other substances and material to make the products.


This page was last edited on Thursday, 23 Jul 2020 at 15:15 UTC

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