Why are fossil fuels harmful for the environment?

1 Answer
Jan 14, 2016

Fossil fuels are harmful for the environment for a few reasons.


Fossil fuels are harmful for the environment for a few reasons.

The main reason why fossil fuels cause so much damage is due to the amount of carbon dioxide or CO2 emitted when fossil fuels are burned. This burning and release of CO2 is a huge contributor to the greenhouse effect and climate change. More CO2 in our atmosphere causes less sunlight to escape back into space, causing the planet to warm.

When fossil fuels are burned, CO2 isn't the only gas released. Other harmful gases such as nitrogen and sulfur oxides. Burning fossil fuels causes air pollution and smog.


Acid rain is also caused by the burning of fossil fuels. While technology has improved considerably in the US, we used to see high instances of acid rain around industrial areas where lots of fossil fuels were being burned. This is still the case in areas where air quality is not as regulated.

Another reason why fossil fuels are bad for the environment has to do with the ways they are extracted or removed from the earth. Drilling and mining for coal, natural gas, and oil all involve disrupting the natural landscape to access these materials. Drilling can disrupt the water table and if spills or accidents occur, we can have incidents like the Deepwater Horizon Spill.

An example of a coal mine:

Extent of Deepwater Horizon Spill:

To read more about this issue, check out this article on the hidden cost of fossil fuels.