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Fossil Fuel Consumption, CO2 And Its Impact On Global Climate

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Science & Nature

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Background: At the beginning of human history, we had to satisfy our energy
needs (for food, heat and movement) by using our own muscle power and gathering
or hunting naturally available plants, animals and wood. Each stage in the
evolution of human society (the development of farming, domestication of animals,
harnessing of wind and water power) increased the average per capita energy use,
but it was the Industrial Revolution and the exploitation of fossil fuels which
marked the transformation of societies into the energy-intensive economies of
today. Since the eighteenth century the industrialising countries have come to
rely on non-renewable energy resources, and at present about 80 per cent (Myers,
1994) of the world's commercial energy is derived from oil, coal and gas.
Although it has been observed that the growth of energy consumption is closely
correlated with the increases in gross national product thus our economic
development, the major sources of energy (that is fossil fuels) are 'stock
resources'. Fossil fuels are consumed by use and the current consumption
patterns are non-sustainable. It is recognised that energy conservation and the
development of renewable energy sources will be needed to sustain economic
growth. The quantity of ultimately recoverable fossil fuels is limited by
geology and remains a matter of suspicion, but the view of the 1970s that
scarcity was imminent is still popular. It is the 1973 Oil Crisis marked the
transition from abundant, low-cost energy to an era of increasing prices and
scarcity. Today concerns over scarcity have been overtaken by the question of
whether human beings can afford to meet the environmental costs of continued
fossil fuel consumption. One of the most widespread concern related to global
climatic changes.

Introduction: Climate represents normal weather condition of an area over a
period of many years. This is in contrast to weather which is the day to day
changes in the atmosphere. It is now realised that our global "climatic normals"
had fluctuated in the past millions of years which was nowhere related to human
activities. Nevertheless, with the increasing human population and our reliance
on fossil fuels since the last century, we have definitely 'participated' in the
climatic changes which are taking place to a certain extent. Since the Stockholm
Conference in 1972, more and more attentions have been drawn to the issue of
global warming, which is the increase in global temperature caused by the
atmospheric greenhouse effect. We have greenhouse effect because some trace
components of our atmosphere re-absorb and retain certain wavelengths of heat
radiated from the Earth's surface, and the burning of fossil fuels have
increased the tropospheric concentration of all of these compounds, especially
carbon dioxide # (CO2).

The Greenhouse Gas ' CO2: A Product of Fossil Fuel Consumption: 'Pollution' of
the atmosphere from the consumption of fossil fuels has many effects. Perhaps
the best know are modifications that have led to changes in carbon dioxide. In
some ways carbon dioxide cannot be classified as an air pollutant as it is
reasonably abundant in the natural atmosphere (0.03%), and it is a basic product
of all fossil fuel consumption. Although the chemical reaction in combustion of
fossil fuels is not always simple, it can be summarised as the release of the
carbon combined with atmospheric oxygen atoms to form carbon dioxide. This
process is often referred as respiration, such that: C6H12O6 + 6O2 + heat ' 6CO2
+ 6H2O Here, we see that carbon dioxide is not an impurity, as a matter of fact,
life on the earth is somehow depending on this gas, either directly through
photosynthesis (plants) or indirectly via the food-chain (animals). Nevertheless,
this gas plays an important role in the heat balance of the earth, because of
its distinctive heat-storage properties. We often refer carbon dioxide as a
'greenhouse gas', as the name implies, it is a kind of material that would
absorb and retain heat. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is transparent to the
sun's short-wave radiation, which is primarily in the ultra-violent and visible
portions of the electromagnetic spectrum (l=0.1-1 mm). After the incident

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