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Carbon fuels

The biggest effect of hydrocarbon fuels on the environment, according to the modern theory, is due to their emission of carbon upon burning.

The carbon that these fuels emit had been buried — out of the atmosphere.

Roughly speaking, fossil fuels are the result of dead plant and animal life held in an oxygen-poor state whilst heat, pressure, and millions of years altered chemicals into the forms that we recognize today as "energy."

Strange energy it is, hard crumbling dusty chunks and sticky stinking muck.

And when the carbon of these excavated fuels combines with oxygen, as it does during combustion, it re-enters Earth atmosphere — and affects a delicate system.

A carbon atom and two of oxygen, or CO2, is the primary "greenhouse gas."

The molecule seems to be affecting the operation of the upper Earth atmosphere.