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Carbon in Fossil Fuels

Whenever greenhouse gases are discussed, surely the use of fossil fuels will ensue. But why not? Every drop of fossil fuel burned in our midst emits a tantamount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and contributes to the accumulation of greenhouse gases.


The imminent effects of massive concentration of carbon dioxide over the earth's atmosphere is global warming. The erratic climatic behavior this planet is experiencing now is symptomatic of chilling scenarios pronounced by experts year ago who are now finding new audiences to speak to about the telltale signs of a global warming in progress.

These scientists are the modern seers who have come to inform the rest of the world about an impending catastrophe. It is now the duty of world leaders to rally their constituents towards working together for solutions to the climate crisis.

The problem lies primarily with the massive burn of fossil fuels by industries to manufacture lucrative consumer products. Currently the world is emitting about 6 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually and 60-percent of this are attributed to human activities. Highly industrialized nations lead the emission race with the United States on top, registering a carbon emission rating of 19.1-percent.

This is followed by Russia with 13.6-percent, China at 9.9-percent, Japan with 5.1-percent, Brazil at 4.3-percent, Germany at 3.8-percent, India with 3.7-percent, United Kingdom at 2.4-percent, Indonesia with 1.9-percent and tailing close is Italy at 1.7-percent. It is evident that these countries contribute largely to the degradation of our atmosphere and it needs to be them to spearhead the efforts to rectify this predicament with strategic measures to cut down on the global dependence on fossil fuels.

Fossil fuels are energy-rich substances obtained from decayed plants and microorganisms buried under sediments for millions of years. This include petroleum, coal, and natural gas that provide humans with the energy to propel transportation and manufacturing industries and other basic human activities.

Gasoline is a by-product of petroleum that fuels our cars. Coal is the fuel of choice for electrical plants. Natural gas provides heat to our homes during winter. These are the prime reasons why man cannot seem to live without depending on fossil fuels, at the expense of the environment.

The fossil fuels are produced chiefly from ancient microscopic plants and bacteria that thrive in the ocean and saltwater seas. An organic-rich mud is formed over time, whenever dead and decaying microorganisms are mixed with sand and silt as sediments settle over the organic ooze to chemically transform it into petroleum and natural gas. This process takes several million years to materialize.

Coal is a solid fossil fuel formed from the decay of ancient plants such as trees, ferns and mosses that thrive in swamps, bogs and shorelines. These actually compose of generation after generation of dead plants piled on top of the other and buried under several layers of sediment. As these things decay, the organic material undergoes transformation when subjected to substantial heat and pressure. After millions of years, this decay buildup develops into coal deposits.

Natural gas on the other hand is a by-product of decayed planktons, which are tiny water dwelling organisms such as algae and protozoa that have settled on the ocean floor. The concentration of these compressed dead microorganisms under layers of sediments over millions of years provides pressure and heat converting it to natural gas. Natural gas is composed primarily of methane and light hydrocarbons.

Geologists use a series of instruments to locate underground fossil fuel deposits. Once a substantial amount is found, wells are drilled down to extract the deposit. Coal, on the other hand, is removed by excavation.

Indeed, the carbon in fossil fuels is a worthwhile resource if used moderately to feed our industries, especially if the carbon can be sequestered as in promising new clean coal technology. Otherwise, carbon becomes a precursor to a whole host of airborne breathing ailments for ourselves and generations to come.

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