The economic and environmental consequences of the global energy systems are dependent on the availability and consumption of energy resources. However, as dependence on fossil fuels increases, the environmental risks associated with their extraction and the environmental damage caused by their emissions also increase. However, no primary energy source (renewable or nonrenewable) is free of environmental or economic limitations. Conversion to and adoption of environmentally benign energy technology very much depends on political and economic realities.
Some of the environmental consequences of using fossil fuels include:
• Global warming
• Acid rain
• Thermal pollution
Global warming. Caused by emission of various gases when fossil fuels are used in plants (such as use of coal in electrical power generation plants or use of gasoline in plants and automobiles. One of the most significant emitted gases is carbon dioxide (CO2), a gas that traps heat in the earth's atmosphere.
Global average surface temperature has risen about 1 to 1.2°C since reliable records began in the late 1850s (Figure 5.2 IPCC, 2007). This is significant and has been mostly attributed to the increase in carbon dioxide. Projected temperature increase could have detrimental effects on the earth.