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What are Fossil Fuels?

What are Fossil Fuels?

Here's an explanation of what fossil fuels are, their importance for our survival, and how they can be preserved.
HelpSaveNature Staff
A lot is being spoken about fossil fuels, their quick depletion, their pros and cons, and the effect that they are having on our environment and in fact, human life as a whole. But what are they? What is this power that they hold? What is their importance in our lives?

About Fossil Fuels

Fossil fuels are naturally occurring substances, that take over a million years to form. They are formed as a result of the decomposition of plant and animal matter, caused by their exposure to pressure and heat over the years. Found in the top layer of the Earth's crust, they are the prime source of energy to us and our planet. All our vehicles run on the energy provided by them, they are used to generate electricity, and perform several other functions for us as well. When burned, they release energy. There are mainly three types of fossil fuels - coal, oil, and natural gas. The formation of these depends on the type of plant and animal matter, along with the amount of heat and pressure that have gone into creating them.

Concerns

Considering how fossil fuels are formed, they are a non-renewable source of energy, which is a major cause for concern. We are now extremely dependent on them for all our energy requirements. Almost 90% of our energy requirements are fulfilled by them. So why are they running out? Because of the casual way and the rate at which we are utilizing them. Furthermore, with the amount of time that they take to form, it is likely that we will not have enough of them left for our use in the coming years.

Another important concern regarding fossil fuels is the environmental pollution that they cause. Their prime component is carbon, and when these are burned, they release additional carbon dioxide, which in turn results in the formation of greenhouse gases. Even when they are extracted from the crust of the Earth and processed for the purpose of use by human beings, a lot of carbon dioxide is released into the environment. This has caused grave concerns, as it has led to gradual depletion of the ozone layer.

All the aforementioned processes are interrelated. The burning of fossil fuels is causing global warming, which in turn is resulting in serious climate change. The melting of glaciers and the drastic fluctuations in the climatic condition across the world are a cause for concern by environmentalists. According to them, the rate at which these conditions are affecting the planet, we are in for some disastrous consequences.

Preservation

While the importance of fossil fuels cannot be undermined, it is important to understand that an excess utilization of these resources can be extremely harmful for us. As we can see, because of their limited amounts in nature, we are having to bear the brunt of paying high prices for oil and gas. Once considered a cheap source of energy, they are now becoming extremely expensive. Because of our dependence on them, it is becoming difficult to imagine a life without them. Yet, numerous efforts are being made to find alternatives to them, so that at least some can be preserved. Some alternatives are solar power, bio-diesel, liquid nitrogen, wind power, etc. These are forms of alternative fuels that serve to provide similar functions.

Fossil fuels are something we can't live without. The more we use them casually, the more we are going to have to pay for this attitude later. We can also do our bit for the conservation of natural resources such as these, to ensure that we leave at least some behind for the future generations. Use your knowledge to make this world a better place by simply doing just your part. A cumulative effort will help us preserve these and eventually, lead a comfortable life.
Car exhaust fumes polluting the air in an urban environment
Charcoal coal