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What are fossil fuels?
April 18, 2023
Fossil fuels are nonrenewable energy resources that come from the buried remains of animals and plants that lived millions of years ago. Nonrenewable resources are not infinite but finite. That means that a resource either takes a long period of time to replenish itself or it simply doesn’t. Fossil fuels form from decomposing animals and plants. When fossil fuels are burned and used, they contribute to global warming. Some of the most common types of fossil fuels are coal, natural gas, and oil.
Coal is a sedimentary deposit mainly made up of carbon that is easy to burn. Coal can be black or brownish-black and it has a lot of energy. Today, we mainly just burn coal to make electricity, but in the 19th century, it was used to heat homes and as fuel for ships and trains. The Industrial Revolution also expanded the use of coal tremendously. The countries today that use the most coal are China, India, and the United States. Also, the top 3 countries with the most coal in the world are the United States, Russia, and Australia.
Natural gas is mainly made of methane and odorless. It makes up around 30% of the energy in the United States. Natural gas is used for generating electricity and heating. It was originally used for lamp fuels in the 1800s. By burning natural gas as a fuel, carbon dioxide was generated which leads to leaks of any unburned methane into the air. About 24% of the world’s energy comes from natural gas. The top 3 countries that consume natural gas today are the United States, Russia, and China. The countries with the most natural gas reserves are Russia, Iran, and Qatar.
Oil is also called petroleum. It is the remains of ancient animals and plants pressed together deep in the earth into liquid strings of carbon and hydrogen. Oil is mainly used to heat buildings, propel vehicles, and make electricity. When oil is burned, it releases large amounts of carbon dioxide into the air. The countries with the most oil on earth are Venezuela with 300 billion barrels in reserves and Saudi Arabia with 297.5 billion barrels. The largest consumers of oil in the world are the United States, China, and India.