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Why are fossil fuels bad for the environment?

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Quick Answer

Burning fossil fuels negatively affects the environment because they release carbon dioxide and other gases that trap heat in the Earth's atmosphere, which contributes to global climate change. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the burning fossil fuels during the last 150 years has increased atmospheric carbon dioxide levels by 25 percent. Levels of methane and nitrous oxide have also increased.

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Why are fossil fuels bad for the environment?
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Full Answer

In addition to contributing to global climate change, burning fossil fuels also pollutes the air, leading to negative health effects for animals. Exposure to the carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels can cause headaches and increase the risk of heart disease. According to GreenEnergyChoice.com, more than 2.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide are produced just by power plants each year. Sulphur oxides produced when burning fossil fuels form sulphuric acid when they combine with water vapor. As this acid accumulates in lakes and streams, it makes the habitats uninhabitable for plants and animals.

Burning fossil fuels also results in thermal pollution. The process of burning any substance generates heat, and this heat is often released into lakes and streams when the water that they contain is used as a coolant. The increased temperatures in these lakes and streams upsets the ecosystem, causing some species' populations to increase and others to decrease.

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