Since 1900, global carbon emissions from fossil fuels have risen dramatically. CO2 emissions have grown by over 90% since 1970, with emissions from fossil fuel burning and industrial activities accounting for approximately 78% of the entire increase in greenhouse gas emissions from 1970 to 2011. If current trends continue, scientists say we will exceed the maximum heat-trapping capability of the atmosphere with disastrous results.
Fossil fuels are the source of energy for nearly all passenger vehicles on the road today. In fact, almost any vehicle that runs on gasoline or diesel engines must get its power from a factory equipped with the necessary equipment to turn crude oil into electricity and fuel cells.
The main alternative to fossil fuels as an energy source is natural gas. Like fossil fuels, natural gas is made up of hydrogen and carbon molecules. The only difference is that instead of being trapped inside rocks, the carbon atoms in natural gas can be found separate from their parent molecules. This means that natural gas can leak out into the environment if it is not handled properly by the producer and transporter of the gas. Leaks can also occur during use by consumers of the gas if it is not used for heating or cooling purposes.
Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. It is the second most abundant element in the Earth's crust, and is the most common element in water.
The second-largest contributors have been agriculture, deforestation, and other land-use changes. Renewable energy technologies such as solar power and wind power have increased substantially in recent years, but they still only account for a small fraction of the total energy supply.
Fossil fuels include oil, natural gas, and coal. They are the main sources of energy for most countries. Oil and natural gas account for about 95% of the total amount of fossil fuels that get used for energy every year. Coal is the main source of energy for India and some other countries. It accounts for about 50% of the total amount used for energy.
Fossil fuels come from dead plants and animals that were covered with soil. As they decay, the carbon they contain releases into the atmosphere. Over time, enough carbon is released into the atmosphere to cause climate change. The more carbon dioxide there is in the atmosphere, the faster the planet will heat up.
The main source of pollution from fossil fuels is CO2. Other pollutants include SO2, NOx (nitrogen oxides), and particulate matter. People can also emit gases such as HF, NH3+, and CH4 during the extraction process.
Because of population and economic expansion, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions are predicted to rise at a 0.6 percent yearly pace. Regardless, fossil fuels are likely to satisfy the majority of the world's energy requirements. Technologies to extract oil from shale and tar sands have been developed, but they are expensive and currently available only in limited quantities.
The increased use of products and technologies based on fossil fuels has led to concern about their impact on the environment. The burning of fossil fuels contributes to greenhouse gas emissions which may lead to further global warming. The extraction of oil uses up natural resources such as water and land, and can cause environmental damage through the construction of pipelines and other infrastructure needed to transport fuel. Changes in climate caused by manmade gases will affect how easily minerals can be extracted from rock, which will in turn influence how much coal or oil can be mined.
Fossil fuels provide most of the world's energy needs, and it is unlikely that they will be replaced quickly with alternative sources because they are inexpensive and widely available. Even if solar power becomes cheaper than fossil fuels, it would not be able to replace them entirely because solar radiation does not match human need for heat and electricity.
Some scientists believe that there is enough oil in the world to meet human needs for more than 100 years, but this assumption depends on how rapidly we use all the known oil reserves.
Carbon dioxide concentrations are growing mostly as a result of people's usage of fossil fuels for energy. Carbon dioxide traps heat in the atmosphere, causing temperatures to rise. This has many negative effects including ocean acidification.
In addition to energy usage, deforestation and soil degradation are other factors contributing to CO2 emissions. Deforestation and land use change remove the protective layer of earth that shields us from the sun's heat. This allows more radiation into our planet, which leads to climate change.
Climate change will have many effects on all aspects of life. Some expected effects include sea level rises, extreme weather events, and changes in the distribution of rainfall. These changes will have an impact on the amount of energy that reaches the surface of the planet, which in turn will affect how much fuel we need to produce electricity.
Some countries or organizations have pledged to reduce their carbon emissions. The Paris Agreement was a treaty signed by nearly 200 countries to mitigate climate change. Under this agreement, signatory nations pledge to work toward reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and helping poorer countries do the same.
The Paris Agreement aims to keep the increase in the average temperature below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.