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Most fuels used by humans are in hydrocarbon form, requiring combustion with oxygen. These fuels take many forms, from crude oil, to the many distillates obtained from crude oil, those being gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, jet fuel, and various grades of heating oil. Coal is a solid form of hydrocarbon, still in use today in electrical energy production. The harmful affects of burning these fuels are starting to have several results worthy of mention. The exhaust from automobiles burning gasoline and diesel fuel contribute to the production of smog in heavily populated areas on the Earth. Smog is a heavy type of air pollution that has harmful ramifications on the respiratory system of humans. The aforementioned coal used in electrical energy production contributes nitrous and sulfide particulates to the atmosphere, which combines with water vapor and returns to the Earth in the form of acid rain. Acid rain is harmful to plants, wildlife, and city infrastructure. Acid rain runoff can severely affect the pH level of freshwater streams and lakes, resulting in massive fish and wildlife kills.
So what do we do? Come up with alternative energy sources, such as hydroelectric power, produced by running water, or wind power, produced by giant wind mill farms catching the power of the wind. Nuclear power is in widespread use, but has the danger of radioactive waste and atmospheric contamination, if the walls of the power plant are breached. Solar power is another alternative energy source being developed, as is tidal power generation. So-called "green" cars are being introduced to the automotive market, that run on solar power, electric power, or hybrids, which are a combination of both electrical and traditional gasoline power. To date, none of these alternative power supplies has gained widespread use, and all have trouble supplying an uninterrupted flow of energy to meet public demand.
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