How Does Burning Fossil Fuels Contribute To Global Warming

Fossil fuels have been a reliable source of energy since the Industrial Revolution. Unfortunately, burning fossil fuels contributes to global warming and its associated effects, such as sea level rise, melting ice caps, and increasingly frequent and intense natural disasters. Global temperatures have increased by 0.8 degrees Celsius (1.4 degrees Fahrenheit) since the mid-1800s, and the burning of fossil fuels is a major cause of this trending rise.

Burning fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, into the atmosphere. These gases absorb and reradiate infrared radiation, trapping heat in the atmosphere and raising global temperatures, thus causing climate change. Carbon dioxide is the most widely known greenhouse gas and accounts for 82% of human-induced climate change. In the United States alone, burning fossil fuels accounts for 79% of all greenhouse gas emissions.

The effects of burning fossil fuels are felt around the world. As temperatures continue to rise, water sources are becoming increasingly scarce in some parts of the world. Polar icecaps are melting at unprecedented rates and sea levels are rising, posing a serious threat to densely populated coastal areas. Extreme weather events are becoming increasingly frequent, with multiple hurricanes devastating various countries in the same year.

The burning of fossil fuels is also damaging to human health. Air quality has greatly suffered as a result of pollutants released from burning coal and oil, resulting in harmful health effects such as asthma and respiratory diseases. The Environmental Protection Agency found that “Exposure to [particulate matter] has been linked to numerous health problems, including increased respiratory and cardiovascular hospitalizations and deaths.”

Many countries are implementing measures to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and mitigate the additional climate change that would result from further burning. If emissions can be reduced, global warming can be slowed and its associated consequences somewhat alleviated. The Paris Climate Change Agreement, for example, was an international pact to reduce emissions and mitigate the global impacts of climate change.

On an individual level, people can make their own changes to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Low-carbon initiatives, such as switching to renewable energy sources, cycling or walking to work instead of driving, and reducing consumer dependency on plastic can all help reduce emissions and their associated impacts on the environment. Even small changes can make a significant difference when undertaken on a global scale.

Clearly, burning fossil fuels has devastating effects on the environment, from the sharp rise in global temperatures to the increasingly frequent extreme weather events. It is well past time that countries and individuals alike make the changes necessary to reduce reliance on these unsustainable energy sources before even more irreparable damage is done.

Ernestine Warren is a passionate environmentalist, author, and advocate for the protection of the Earth's precious resources. She has written extensively on the causes and effects of global warming, providing accurate information to help educate people on how to combat this major global problem. With a background in science and biology, Ernestine has the tools to help develop solutions that meet everyone's needs while minimizing environmental damage. Her hope is that each person can do their part for the planet and make a real difference to help reduce climate change.

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