A fossil fuel is a fuel formed by natural processes, such as anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms, containing energy originating in ancient photosynthesis. The age of the organisms and their resulting fossil fuels is typically millions of years, and sometimes exceeds 650 million years.
There are three major types of fossil fuels:
a). Coal is formed from ferns, plants and trees which hardened due to pressure and heat.
b. Oil is formed from smaller organisms, like zooplankton and algae. Intense amounts of pressure caused this complex organic matter to decompose into oil.
c). Natural Gas undergoes the same process as oil; however the process is longer and subject to higher amounts of heat and pressure, causing further decomposition.
Fossil fuels, including coal, oil and natural gas, are currently the world’s primary energy source. Formed from organic material over the course of millions of years, fossil fuels have fueled U.S. and global economic development over the past century. Yet fossil fuels are finite resources and they can also irreparably harm the environment.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the burning of fossil fuels was responsible for 79 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2010. These gases insulate the planet, and could lead to potentially catastrophic changes in the earth’s climate.
Fossil fuels have several drawbacks
Although we have relied on fossil fuels to power our society for a long time, there are several disadvantages to the continued use of these types of outdated energy sources.
1. Fossil fuels pollute
The particles released from burning fossil fuels also have negative effects for our planet as a whole. You’ve probably heard that fossil fuels contribute to climate change, and that contribution comes directly from the particles that are put into the atmosphere when they are burned. Compounds like carbon dioxide and methane enter our atmosphere and trap heat from the sun, which has lead to a continuous rise in average global temperatures since the early 1900s. Rising temperatures can lead to everything from natural habitat destruction to sea level rise.
2. Fossil fuels are a nonrenewable resource
3. Fossil fuels are unsafe and accidents happen
The Hidden Costs of Fossil Fuels
1. Pollution and land degradation
2. Heal Costs
3. Extraction Costs
4. Transporting Costs
5. Global warming emissions.
8. Land Use
9. Water Usage and Pollution
Oil and gas wastewater can also impact aquatic wildlife. Oil and grease leaked into water systems can adhere to fish and waterfowl and destroy algae and plankton, disrupting the primary food sources of fragile aquatic ecosystems. And heavy metals in the wastewater can be toxic to fish, even in low concentrations, and may be passed through the food chain, adversely affecting humans and larger animals .