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Can renewable energy sources power the world?
Can renewable energy sources power the world?

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5 Fossil fuels, greenhouse gases and climate change

Society’s current use of fossil fuels has many adverse consequences. Here we’ll concentrate on their emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change.

As you can see from Figure 98, humanity’s emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from these fuels have increased enormously since 1850. There have also been significant additional contributions from emissions of methane and other greenhouse gases.

CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels 1850–2009
Figure 8 CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels 1850–2009 (sources: Boden et al., 2010; IEA, 2010b; BP, 2010)

So what is the chain of events that cause climate change on a global level?