Burning of Fossil Fuels

By Evyn Sweeney and Elisha Cullins

Burning of Fossil Fuels

Fossil fuels are a natural fuel such as coal or gas that was formed from the remains of living organisms. The three main types of fossil fuels are coal, oil and natural gas.

Fossil fuels were formed from prehistoric plants and animals that lived millions of years ago, they slowly decomposed into organic materials and formed into fossil fuels. Depending on what combination of animal and plants, how long the material was buried, and what temperature and weather pressure happened when they were decomposing are all factors that determine the different types of fossil fuels.

Oil and natural gas were created from organisms that lived underwater and were buried under ocean or river sediments. Heat, pressure, and bacteria combined together after prehistoric seas and river vanished to mix the organic material under the layers.

Over time, oil and natural gas rises through the earth’s crust until they run into caprocks (rock formations) which prevent them from seeping to the surface because they are dense. Most of the oil and natural gas produced today is from under caprocks.

Although direct sources of fossil fuels such as coal or oil won’t usually cause damage to organisms, the byproducts of these substances will. The gases that are created by combusting fossil fuels will not only pollute the air and ozone, but also harm the organisms lungs and respiratory system. An indirect way that fossil fuels harm organisms is when the carbon dioxide emitted from the fossil fuels goes into the ozone layer, causing more reflected heat waves to be trapped on the planet. This global heating affects organisms environments, which can negatively alter the climate and habitat, resulting in these organisms dying out.

One very large legislation that passed in the U.S. to regulate production of fossil fuels, was signed by president Barack Obama on August 3rd, 2015. The Clean Power Plan has a goal to reduce the carbon dioxide emission from current and future power plants by 32% once it is 2030. The main goals of this plan are to increase the efficiency of power plants, changing from coal powered plants to natural gas powered, and increasing the renewable power used.

Another major legislation is being passed in Victoria, Canada to reduce carbon emission by 60% once it is 2050. One of the main changes they plan to make is converting to a CCS method, which allows for the use of greenhouse gases as fuels, but stores the carbon dioxide so it won’t pollute the ozone and air.

On July 25, 2015, representatives of France in the UN conference proposed a law to reduce the country’s energy consumption by 50%, and increase the consumption of renewable energy in 2030 by 32%. To do this, the French Parliament must charge carbon budgets every five years, and a carbon tax for larger suppliers of fossil fuels.

Because Hawaii is so isolated from the rest of the world, it is much harder for us to get fossil fuels such as oil and coal, which isn’t found in Hawaiian soil. Due to this, these fuels are much more expensive and valuable.

CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) is a technology used in parts of the world that can capture and store nearly 90% of carbon emissions from electricity and coal powered generators/plants. The way this works is the technology captures all of the different chemicals then separates the CO2 from the rest, storing it in a safe place. This is a somewhat unfamiliar method to many people, and would be a good first step to converting completely to renewable energy.

Recycling and Air Pollution

Recycling and Air Pollution

Recycling reduces the air pollution associated with burning fossil fuels - which means less smog, acid rain and global warming!

Less in Landfills

The more material Americans recycle, the less goes into landfills. That's a plus for air quality and residents around the landfill won't have respiratory problems and irritation of the eyes, nose and throat when the gas was present.

Less Power

Recycling also improves air quality by reducing the demand for power. Collecting, processing and shipping recycled materials to industrial users requires less energy than mining, refining, processing and shipping raw materials. The more power the United States uses, the more fossil fuels it burns. The higher the fossil fuel use, the more pollutants are going into the atmosphere.

Greenhouse Gas

Reducing the need for power and for processing raw materials also reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Recycling reduces greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide. This happens because recycling reduces the need to burn fossil fuels such as gasoline, diesel and coal.

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Formation of Fossil Fuels


"The Sources and Solutions: Fossil Fuels." EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 18 May 2016.

"Students Create Solutions." Filtration Industry Analyst 1999.27 (1999): 13.Consequences of Fossil Fuel Use. Web. 18 Jan. 2016.

"Renewable Energy Sources." Home. Hawaiian Electric Company, n.d. Web. 18 May 2016.

"What Is CCS?" – The Carbon Capture & Storage Association (CCSA). CCS, 2011-2016. Web. 18 May 2016.