Factory with air pollution clouds

Fossil fuels and the climate

What are fossil fuels?
In short, fossil fuels are materials that are naturally formed in the Earth's crust from decomposing plants and animals. These materials contain carbon and hydrogen, which may be burned for energy, to provide heat to power engines, or to generate electricity. We know these as coal, oil, and natural gas. The conversion to become a high-carbon material requires a geological process of millions of years.[1.] 

How fossil fuels affect the climate, and what is Carbon Dioxide?
As fossil fuels are burned to produce heat and provide energy, they release Carbon Dioxide, also known as greenhouse emissions. These emissions absorb heat from the Earth's surface and then releases it all back out. We need these greenhouse gases to keep the global surface temperature above freezing. However the human use of burning fossil fuels is accelerating the greenhouse effect, resulting in high global temperatures that affects our climate through many ways.

Burning fossil fuels also contributes for example to smog, and acid rain, generating sulfuric and nitric acids impacting our eco-systems. They also contain radioactive matter such as uranium and thorium.[2.]

Humans are responsible
According to the United Nations, "Humans are responsible for virtually all global heating over the last 20 years [...] warming the world faster than any time in at least the last two thousand years."

Temperature rises are just the beginning of the story. The connection of Earth and its eco-systems mean that everything is linked, and therefore it affects us all. Examples of how climate change have affected us are the intense weather patterns we are seeing today, such as droughts, severe wildfires, rising sea levels, flooding, catastrophic storms to name but a few.

Emissions occur across the globe, and also affects all of us, so it doesn't matter where you live. Emissions we emit here will also affect others on the other side of the globe and vice versa. This is why it is so important we work together across the globe.

Reducing the use of fossil fuels is the main factor is reducing our emissions to prevent catastrophic levels of climate change. "Everyone must take climate action, but people and countries creating more of the problem have a greater responsibility to act first."[3.]

Fossil fuels need to be kept in the ground.

You can find out more about the affects and the forever knock-on affects on how those carbon dioxide emissions affect us at the following sites:




1: ( Paul Mann, Lisa Gahagan, and Mark B. Gordon, "Tectonic setting of the world's giant oil and gas fields", in Michel T. Halbouty (ed.) Giant Oil and Gas Fields of the Decade, 1990–1999, Tulsa, Okla.: American Association of Petroleum Geologists, p. 50, accessed 22 June 2009.



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