The Effects of Fossil Fuels on the Environment

The Effects of Fossil Fuels on the Environment

Jane Marsh - July 28, 2021

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This summer, Earth experienced record-breaking high temperatures. As humanity suffers from dehydration and heatstroke, researchers seek sustainable solutions. A significant contributing factor to climate change is greenhouse gas emissions.

Emissons are just one of the effects of fossil fuels on the environment. Fortunately, President Biden recognized the ecological challenge and generated restrictions. He plans on developing a carbon-neutral nation in the coming decades.

The Enhanced Greenhouse Effect

Fossil fuels power the world. Our electricity production, transportation sector, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems all require the conventional fuel source. During combustion, fossil fuels generate greenhouse gas emissions.

When the emissions pollute the atmosphere, they alter Earth’s natural temperature control process. Organically, when solar radiation reaches the atmosphere, it generates heat. Earth uses the energy to warm the surface, creating a life-sufficient environment.

After the surface reaches an appropriate temperature, the atmosphere re-absorbs excess energy and converts it to more heat. Once Earth attains an adequate heat rate, it emits unnecessary energy to space, preserving the environment. When greenhouse gases reach the atmosphere, they create an altered chemical state.

The pollutants have a higher sunlight-to-heat conversion rate than conventional atmospheric elements. They also trap excess heat in the environment rather than emitting it to space. The overproduction and entrapment of warmth raise the global temperature over time.

Evaporation and Water Displacement

The enhanced greenhouse effects cause a ripple impact of destruction. One degrading ecological influence of rising greenhouse gas emissions is a heightened evaporation rate. As global temperatures rise, heat depletes local water sources, leaving reservoirs, rivers and lakes dry.

The increased evaporation rate also causes water displacement. As some regions become ridden with elongated drought periods, others experience increased precipitation. The displacement of water sources causes industrial changes in the agricultural industry.

In the U.S., Southern California develops the majority of our nationally grown produce supply. Until recently, it was the optimal location for agricultural production because of consistently warm temperatures and water supplies. Now, California struggles to attain adequate resources.

The drought places immense stress on farmers, decreasing their yield sizes. Soon, the agricultural industry will have to relocate, residing in a location with plentiful water sources. If greenhouse gas emissions continue exploiting the atmosphere, we may run out of adequate land for food production.

Surface Pollution

The fossil fuel industry also generates ecological degradation in the oil and gas sector. Unmaintained pipelines cause fuel leaks, creating surface pollution. When the lines erode, they may release nearly 85% of their materials into the local ecosystem.  

More than half of pipeline explosions cause soil toxicity, generating adverse human health effects. They additionally generate species endangerment when impacting their habitats. In agricultural regions, a leak or explosion can destroy the food supply.

Until recently, America had an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established act protecting against surface pollution. The Clean Power Plan could prevent pollution generated by the fossil fuel industry, converting our energy reliance towards the renewable power sector. Unfortunately, the Trump administration abolished the act, leaving natural lands unprotected.

The failed government regulation and maintenance led to the explosion in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. A corroding pipeline was unstable when a landslide occurred, fueling a destructive blast. Various residents lost their homes, vehicles and agricultural resources because of the explosion.

Powering Change

Since the Paris Agreement’s establishment in 2015, environmental scientists and engineers began developing accessible green technology. They targeted fossil fuel-driven emissions with renewable energy sources. Generating zero-emission technology decreases the enhanced greenhouse effect and preserves the climate.

Tesla released the first accessible electric vehicle on the market, supporting alternative transportation methods. Unlike conventional automobiles, you can charge the car using clean energy derived from wind and solar power. They also generate zero tailpipe emissions, creating a significantly smaller carbon footprint.

Developing an electric grid can also reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. A large portion of our emissions derive from the energy sector. With an electric grid, we can source our electricity from renewable power.

One current model shows promising potential for an industrial-scale grid. In Monterey, California, the Vistra energy company developed a renewable energy storage facility, delivering clean electricity to residents. The location stores a 1,200 megawatt-hour battery back, containing and producing energy for extended use.

America can utilize the technology, generating a mass storage system, supporting an electric grid. The system would help us reach Biden’s carbon neutrality goal. We can also increase production while preserving water sources using floatovoltic panels.

Traditionally, solar panels mount onto rooftops or in fields. Scientists evaluated their conventional uses as efficiency degrading and resource depleting. They decreased the limitations by developing floating solar panels.

The panels cover canals, reservoirs, lakes and the ocean, shielding the water from solar radiation. Sunlight enhances the evaporation effect, and professionals use the panels to shade water sources. They simultaneously create clean energy, fueling local residential and commercial buildings.

Adopting Renewable Sources

If you are decreasing your fossil fuel reliance and shrinking your carbon footprint, you may adopt renewable energy sources. Biden recently extended the clean energy tax incentive, increasing one’s accessibility to zero-emission electricity. You may also adopt compatible technologies, like electric vehicles and energy-efficient home appliances.    

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About the author

Jane Marsh

Starting from an early age, Jane Marsh loved all animals and became a budding environmentalist. Now, Jane works as the Editor-in-Chief of where she covers topics related to climate policy, renewable energy, the food industry, and more.