Nothing has caused such a significant shift in the normal cycle of life on our planet as the effects of burning fossil fuel. Nitrogen pollution affects just about every aspect of our lives. It doesn’t just affect the quality of the air we breathe; it also pollutes our water and land, making it harder for animal and plant life to thrive.
Types of Fuel
There are three types of fossil fuel: coal, petroleum, and natural gas. The Energy Information Administration estimates that primary sources of energy in the world today still consist of petroleum as the major source of energy, with coal as second, and natural gas is accounting for at least 20% of energy production.
In 2013 alone the burning of fossil fuel caused the release of 32 billion tons of carbon dioxide, which in turn led to negative externalities of almost $5 trillion because of health problems and global warming. The rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are a direct contributor to global warming because it increases radioactive forcing and global temperatures, leading to higher surface temperatures.
The dangers of burning fossil fuel
When we burn fossil fuel, nitrogen oxide is released as a byproduct, and its presence in the atmosphere contributes to the formation of acid rain and smog. Nitrogen is the most abundant element in the air, and it is essential to animal and plant life, but time and again, human activities such as industry, power generation, transportation and agriculture, can get in the way of the natural supply of nitrogen in the environment.
Ammonia is a nitrogen compound that is released into the air by the burning of fossil fuel and agricultural activity. Many of the nitrogen oxides that pollute the environment due to human activity come from the burning of fossil fuel, and the enablers are the transportation industry and manufacturing.
Major sources of nitrogen oxide pollutants:
· Large industrial operations
· Coal-fired power plants
· Airplanes and ships
The presence of toxic nitrogen oxides in the atmosphere creates a destructive blanket of contaminants that get deposited back onto land, ultimately washing into rivers and nearby water bodies. High levels of toxic elements contribute to global pollution, the existence of oxygen-deprived aquatic zones and harmful algal blooms. An increase in ammonia and reduced pH levels in these areas jeopardizes aquatic life and hinders normal functioning of organisms.
The most immediate responses should be:
· Manage and minimize emissions
· Enhance energy efficiency
· Invest in renewable energy
· Conserve energy
· Reduce car mileage
In order for nutrient pollution to be diminished, people need to understand the environmental impact of and the effects of burning fossil fuel. Energy has to be mined in a manner that is not so destructive as to be counterproductive to human growth and development or to endanger all plant life.