The Dangers of Fossil Fuels

what-global-warming_6372_600x450So I realized I started a blog about alternative energy without first explaining why we need it. I’m sure everyone is aware of most of these reasons but it seems that people don’t realize the urgency of the situation. Fossil fuels like coal, natural gas, and oil are harmful to the environment and to human health.

Fossil fuels are extremely harmful to the environment and the gases they release while burning, such as CO2 and SO2, are known green house gases that are causing climate change. This is absolutely happening and the warming of the planet will continue and accelerate if we do not take action. Many people have a misconception about climate change and they think everything is going to be getting hotter. However, the melting of the polar ice caps is because of the overall heating of the planet but it’s causing the currents from them to col causing areas along the oceans where these currents run to stay colder for longer. These currents are also a cause of severe weather in these areas. The eastern coastline of the United States is one such area and so the next time it’s really cold don’t say “it’s freezing, global warming my ass” because it could instead be a sign that it’s happening. The cooling and heating of different areas on the globe are going to lead to droughts in Africa, severe weather, flooding in the densely populated Asian river deltas, and threaten small island populations in the pacific.

Climate change is not only effecting people, it’s effecting all organisms negatively. Climate change is leading to the extinction of many species of animal, for example polar bears, caribou, penguins, musk oxen, various types of cold water fish, seabirds, tree possums, American pikas, alpine butterflies, and frogs. These animals could all go extinct without a serious reduction in our carbon footprint. Coral reefs, tropical forests, and mangrove forests are also threatened and they are some of the most densely inhabited and important ecosystems in the world. The coral and trees are effected by the heating and cooling of the ocean, as well as possibilities of drought. If these ecosystems die we could see extinctions of thousands of species both known and unknown. Beyond climate change, pollution and instances such as oil spills are also threatening wildlife.

caribou butterfly fish frog musk oxen penguins

pika polar bears possums seabird

If you are still not concerned about climate change or our effect on the Earth, fossil fuels are also effecting human health. Burning fossil fuels releases chemicals and pollution that are dangerous for people to breathe. It may not feel like it every time you take a breath but it’s true. Air pollution is leading to increased instances of asthma in children and other diseases. Also when we’re talking about natural gas we are also talking about hydraulic fracturing (fracking). It is heavily debated whether or not fracking is dangerous, but in my very strong opinion and from the facts I’ve heard I believe that is is dangerous to human health. Fracking occurs on soft sedimentary rock beds such as shale, but this is also where we get most of our ground water from. There are many alleged cases of gas leaking into the ground water and making many people sick, possibly giving people cancer (although of course this is only “alleged”). There is also the question of the fracking liquid they use. I don’t know what’s in it because, well, no one does. It’s a trade secret, but there have been reports of dozens of dangerous chemicals and reports that they only use sodium chloride. Either way if we are so dependent on fossil fuels that we are willing to look over and not investigate dangers to out own health there is seriously something wrong.

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4 responses to “The Dangers of Fossil Fuels

  1. First to Josh, I really just wanted this post to be about the dangers of fossil fuels since my blog is already about alternative options. Although I do agree that maybe I could have added a few sentences about what some of those options are. Thanks for your input. Next to Sophia, I have seen Gasland and Fracknation, the natural gas debate is something I follow really closely and am really passionate about. I always recommend these documentaries to people who want to learn a little bit about it.

  2. I think this is a great topic to explore, and there is a lot to say about it! As industry around the world develops, energy usage has become such a big deal, especially for the environment. Our environment is critical to our own survival, and it is imperative that we find better ways to fuel consumer demand. Renewable energy sources are expensive, but research today has so much potential, and I’m sure that we can find a better and cleaner alternative to burning fossil fuels.

  3. I agree with what you are saying. You brought up many great points and expressed your opinions towards the topic. Because you said that we need to do something, I wish you would have added an additional paragraph on what you would do to fix the problem. Yes, it is a big issue, but at least you could try to fix a part of it.

  4. I totally agree that we need to step away from fossil fuels if we have any hope of maintaining the health of the planet. And I guess while natural gas is cleaner, it’s still a fossil fuel, so becoming dependent on it is a dangerous path to go down. If you’re interested in the natural gas debate there are two pretty good documentaries that cover the bookends of the debate: Gasland and Fracknation.

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