Monday, 9 February 2015

Carbon dioxide and fossil fuels

Coal, oil and natural gas are fossil fuels.

As they burn, they change the Earth's atmosphere.

How is that possible?

Coal is a good example.



Coal was formed millions of years ago.

Geologists say that a three-metre (10-foot) coal seam took between 12,000 and 60,000 years to form.

Ancient trees and other plants lived, died and were fossilised.
All those plants took carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. 

Some larger coal seams are, for example, 10 metres thick.

They took around 40,000 years to form but have been mined and burned in a little over 100 years.


The figure of 33.4 billion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide is for 2010.  

The figure for 2014 is expected to be 40 billion metric tonnes. 
The fastest rise of CO2 in the air seen in the ice core record (800,000 years) is 20 ppm in 1000 years.

Atmospheric CO2 data and trend

The CO2 level in the atmosphere is now rising at around 20 ppm per decade.

The carbon joins up with oxygen when it burns.


Each carbon atom joins with two oxygen atoms to make carbon dioxide. 

Measurements show that this is reducing the oxygen in the air as time passes.
Several scientific organisations measure the gases in the air.

One major set of measurements are from a laboratory in Hawaii.

This is all extra evidence that extra carbon dioxide in the air comes from burning fossil fuels. 

We are time-warping vast amounts of ancient carbon (which we are combining with current oxygen) into the modern atmosphere.

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