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Thu 17th Nov, 2016 will be...

Dates

17th Nov each year

Petroleum gets a terribly bad rap most of the time these days, and of course it is true that it has contributed to the pollution of our planet. However, petroleum is not just used in cars. It is also a key ingredient in other substances we use on an everyday basis, including plastic, detergent, rubber, fertilizers, pesticides, paint, photographic film, makeup, candles and many medicines. In other words, petroleum is a key part of 21st century life. Petroleum Day is a chance for people to realize just how big of a part it plays in our lives and celebrate all the things this resource provides. However, the unfortunate truth is that this resource is a finite one, so Petroleum Day gives people the opportunity to focus on ways of conserving petroleum and using it wisely.

The History of Petroleum Day

Contrary to popular belief that it is a substance humanity has only recently started using because it was needed for vehicles, petroleum has been used in one form or another since ancient times. According to the renowned Greek historian, Herodotus, petroleum was one of the substances used to build the walls of Babylon. The ancient Persians also used petroleum for lighting purposes, filling their lamps with it, as well as for various medicinal purposes.In the mid-1800s, Scottish chemist James Young began distilling petroleum, resulting in the production of kerosene as well as a thicker, darker oil that was perfect for lubricating machinery. Today, about 90% of the world’s vehicles are powered using petroleum. Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United States currently produce the most petroleum in the world; however, significant deposits are found in many other countries, such as Canada and Venezuela. Because petroleum is a limited, non-renewable energy source, many scientists have devoted their entire careers to developing new technologies that will be able to replace it once it’s gone. The use of petroleum has also raised many ecological concerns, as the burning of it releases large amounts of pollutants such as sulfer dioxide into the air, not to mention the havoc it can wreak on an ecosystem if an oil spill occurs. 

How to Celebrate Petroleum Day

Whatever your feelings on using petroleum, the effect it has had on our civilisation is undeniable, and that’s why celebrating Petroleum Day could prove very educational as well as interesting and entertaining. Celebrations can range from raising awareness of petroleum and its uses to trying to live a day without petroleum based-products in order to appreciate its value and impact on our lives. This means not only leaving the car at home, but avoiding mechanised transport, plastics and even frozen foods that may have petroleum wax packaging. If you haven’t been convinced of how huge a role petroleum plays in all our lives yet, this experiment should make it clear beyond a shadow of a doubt. You could also try holding a petroleum party; during which everyone brings a petroleum-based item. You’d be surprised how much you can learn about petroleum just from this simple exercise alone! Whatever you decide to do, be sure to keep in mind that Petroleum Day is a chance to appreciate this valuable and versatile natural resource and remember that despite its many shortcomings, it has done an enormous amount of good for humanity. 

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