The Environmental Effects of Fossil Fuels

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The Environmental Effects of Fossil Fuels

The situation is scary, but real. The very resources that the world relies upon for energy are also helping to destroy the world. Fossil fuels, such as petroleum, coal, and natural gas, all include some very serious environmental concerns with their essential energy usage abilities. All stages of fossil fuel use have a severe impact upon the environment, from recovery to storage and end use. Thankfully, important legislation has been put together to help to reduce and control the havoc caused by fossil fuels on the environment. But, with the enormous need for fossil fuels, it is impossible to prevent all environmental problems, especially when they are a part of each stage of usage.

In recovery of fossil fuels, such as coal mining, top soil is destroyed, acidic water run-off causes orange creeks, and land subsidence occurs.[1] Petroleum drilling is a danger on land or off-shore due to gushers and accidents that are harmful to the environment. Transporting fossil fuels is also a problem, especially with petroleum, with accidents and even routine operations polluting the seas. Preparation and refining of the fossil fuels can lead to refuse or “sludge” finding a way out of coal cleaning plants, and air and water are often spoiled from petroleum refining. Gasoline leaks are always a risk during storage of petroleum, but end use might be the most disastrous of the stages. End use produces pollutants from combustion, such as sulfur and nitrogen oxide (SOX and NOX), particulate matter (ROX), and carbon monoxide (CO) and unburnt hydrocarbons (UHC).[2] These pollutants, either separately or in combination with one another, are responsible for smog in the ozone, acid rain, and The Greenhouse Effect.

In 1994, transportation was the major source of carbon monoxide emissions (77%), nitrogen oxide emissions (46%), and lead (32%). [3] A combination of sulfur and nitrogen causes acid rain which, in 1952, caused 12,000 deaths and many ill in London, England.[4] All fossil fuels being burned produce carbon dioxide, a leading cause of the Greenhouse Effect. The Greenhouse Effect is the idea that incoming solar radiation readily penetrates the glass coverings of an ordinary greenhouse, but the outgoing infrared radiation from the interior does not.

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