Lions And Tigers And Fossil Fuels, Oh My!!!
The burning of fossil fuels could have a potentially serious effect on our environment. The excess release of CO2 could be the leading cause of global warming. So, what do you know about them? As a member of this Earth, it's YOUR responsibility to know what's going on, and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!
There are some key questions worthy of consideration before further exploring the topic.
Are there any alternatives to the burning of fossil fuels?
Is there a way for Carbon Dioxide levels to be reduced in this process?
How does it all effect global warming?
Through careful thought and research, the "Snazzlydoodles" team has found some fascinating sources and facts involving the effect of burning fossil fuels and their impact on global warming.
Alternatives| CO2 Levels| Global Warming
Are There Alternatives To The Burning 0f Fossil Fuels?
There are many different types of fossil fuels, the most abundant ones being coal, natural gas, petroleum, oil, and gasoline.
We burn fossil fuels to generate energy. They provide more than 85% of the energy used worldwide. Fossil fuels are widely used for energy, because they only require a simple, direct combustion. Fossil fuels are used for transportation, manufacturing products, heating and cooling buildings, lighting spaces, and cooking.
Fossil fuels produce carbon dioxide. Fossil fuels are composed of carbon and hydrogen atoms, and when they are burned or combusted, the carbon atoms unite with the oxygen atoms already present in the air to form carbon dioxide molecules. Oil contributes the most carbon dioxide overall, since we use it the most. Individually, wood and charcoal create the most pollution, and natural gas creates less.
Since the Industrial Revolution, which occurred in the turn of the 20th century, fossil fuels have been abundantly used as a source of energy.
Fossil fuels were formed very long ago from plant or animal remains that were buried, compressed, and transformed into oil, coal, and natural gas.
There are very many alternatives to the burning of fossil fuels for energy. Nuclear power is the only fully developed, non-fossil electricity. Other alternatives are solar energy, wind power, and "green electricity". Solar energy produces no greenhouse gases and is cheap. It could replace fossil fuels over the next 50 years. The United Kingdom uses wind turbines as an alternative energy source. "Green electricity" uses wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass energy instead of coal, nuclear, natural gas, oil, and large scale hydropower electricity.
Is There a Way for Carbon Dioxide Levels to be Reduced?
Experts are not yet sure when CO2 will be dangerous. However, it is known that if the CO2 which is currently in the atmosphere were to double, the earth would be at risk.
Carbon Dioxide is the main product of burning fossil fuels and can't be controlled or removed by any known technology. The only way to limit carbon dioxide is to use less fossil fuels. However, continued steady growth of nuclear power could cut energy-related carbon dioxide emissions substantially if we avoided increasing fossil fuel burning.
The amount of carbon dioxide is expected to double by the year 2050. One scientist, Professor Charles Ophardt, thinks that we will probably not see unequivical evidence of global warming for another 25 years or so.
The increase of carbon dioxide is caused by burning fossil fuels and deforestation. On the bright side, carbon dioxide accelerates the growth of plants and allows plants to grow in drier regions, thus allowing animals to flourish.
The United States is responsible for 23% of global warming gas emissions, but contains only 4% of the world's population. Each year, the United States contributes over 5.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide. That would mean each person produces over 20 tons each year. That is more than 5 times the per-capita average for the world as a whole. The United States carbon dioxide emissions have grown over .5 billion tons since the last decade. Over 90% of energy used in the US results from burning fossil fuels.
Scientists have different opinions on if we stopped burning fossil fuels, if it would reduce the carbon dioxide levels. One study shows that the United States releases about 40,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per person per year. If everybody lowers their CO2 emissions by about 2% a year, in 10 years we'll lose about 7000 pounds of CO2 per person. On the other hand, it is also predicted that if we stop burning fossil fuels right now, the atmosphere would continue to heat up for one to several more decades.
This illustrates the amount of each pollutant released by the consumption of one unit (a gigajoule) of energy.
How Does It All Effect Global Warming?
Global warming is considered a natural phenomenon that results from solar radiation being absorbed by greenhouse gases, and this warming of the atmosphere is what makes life on earth possible.
If global warming is actually occurring, there could possibly be very dangerous consequences. These impacts includes damage to human health, dislocation of agriculture, expansion of deserts, melting of polar ice caps, more frequent extreme weather events, and severe stress on natural habitats. A more extreme prediction consists of forest fires, heat waves, crop failure, erosion, mud slides, and mass extinction of plants and animals.
It is not known IF global warming will ever become a major problem. Some scientists believe that global warming isn't even occurring, while others believe that it will cause complete destruction to life as we know it. Scientists predict that there will be a 4 to 9 degree overall temperature increase by 2050. It is also predicted that the sea level will rise by about 50 cm by the year 2100, due to the melting of glaciers and ice sheets.
All possible contributors to the warming of the globe are not known. It is believed that the "greenhouse effect" is what causes global warming. Carbon dioxide accumulates in the atmosphere, and the layer of gas traps heat, causing the earth's temperature to rise. It is comparable to the windshield of a parked car, it lets heat in, but doesn't let it back out.
If we stop burning fossil fuels, there will still be global warming. Or won't there? The United Nations Panel on Climate Change says we should cut fossil fuel use by at least 50%, and to keep from global warming increasing, we should cut it by 60%. However, some scientists believe that the globe is warming on its own, and humans have no effect on the temperature increase.
There are many things we can do to possibly stop global warming. We can check out energy labels on appliances, use improved heating and cooling systems, insulate your home, encourage companies to use more efficient industrial machinery, use efficient long-lasting light bulbs, seal drafts around windows and doors to keep energy in, plant trees, help prevent deforestation, use products that do not contain CFC's, and urge your government representatives to propose legislation forcing industries to clean up and be more efficient.
Carbon dioxide is the most important global warming gas. Increase in carbon dioxide has contributed about 70% of the enhanced greenhouse effect to date, methane (CH4) about 23%, and nitrous oxide (N2O), 7%.
Other links to global warming (our sources):