Fuels that come from dead organic material are known as fossil fuels. That is why it is called fossil, which means the remains of a dead plant or animal. Today, these fossils get used as fuel. The most common examples are oil, gas and coal. Together, they are the most significant contributors to global warming and climate change. The reason for this is that the burning of fossil fuels – which gets done to produce heat and energy – releases large amounts of greenhouse gases. Too many of these gases contribute to a strong greenhouse effect, which results in global warming.
What are fossil fuels?
As mentioned, they are the remains of dead plants and animals. In other words, prehistoric organic material. They have been stored at the bottom of oceans, seas and lakes for millions of years. Pressure and high temperatures have compressed the dead material into coal, oil or natural gas.
New fossil fuels get created constantly. However, the process takes millions of years. Since humans consume energy at a very high rate, the current resources are scarce. In other words, humans are consuming fossil fuels at a higher rate than they get produced by nature. Furthermore, the burning of these fuels contributes to the greenhouse effect. This effect is the most significant issue with the energy source.
For instance, burning fossil fuels release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This particular gas is very good at absorbing the heat from the sun. More so, almost half of the released carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for over 1000 years. The burning also releases other emissions, such as soot and harmful gases like sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. These gases are sometimes part of the smog, intense air pollution, in big cities. They are toxic to humans and most other life on earth.
Fossil fuels range from bad to very bad. For instance, natural gas has the potential to be a relatively clean fuel as it does not release sulphur dioxide and other harmful particles. However, burning natural gas also releases methane. This gas is one of the most potent greenhouse gases. It can absorb the heat from the sun much better than carbon dioxide.
Another example is oil, which has the benefit of being a highly concentrated type of energy. Furthermore, it comes in a liquid form, which makes it easy to transport and conserve. However, the extraction of oil is becoming increasingly more complicated and expensive. The resource has gotten heavily abused worldwide. In conclusion, all the negative effects of fossil fuels call for a transition to renewable energies.