The Side Effects of Fossil Fuels

By: Ben Simpson

Fossil Fuels

Modern life is basically impossible without fossil fuels. They give us electricity, power our vehicles and are used to produce other necessities like plastics. Sadly, our reliance upon these things has led to an increase of their bi-product, Carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere. Fossil Fuels are all basically just carbon contained in something like oil or coal and when we burn it as fuel, all that carbon is released into the atmosphere.
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How does this Effect the Carbon Cycle?

The carbon cycle is just the transfer of carbon from one area of the environment to another. The transfer of carbon from the atmosphere to the plants takes place in the form of plants absorbing carbon dioxide from the environment. Naturally, there is just enough carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to account for the amount of plants, but when we burn fossil fuels we release an excess amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That extra carbon dioxide gets trapped in the atmosphere because the plants already have enough carbon dioxide to survive and thrive.
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Why Do We Care?

Carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gases which are excellent at retaining and absorbing heat. As you can see from the diagram above, over almost a million years there has been a direct correlation between the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the temperature of the Antarctic. With our excessive burning of fossil fuels, the amount of carbon dioxide in the environment is reaching an all time high which means our planet's temperature is also close to an all time high. This rise in temperature can lead to all kinds of changes in the environment that could cause some lasting effects on our world.