Today, most of the electricity we use in Australia comes from a source called Fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are made from plants and animal matter formed millions of years ago and found deep in the ground.

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The process of collecting or mining fossil fuels changes landscape and environment.

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To start a coal mine, land has to be cleared. This often damages the plants and the homes of animals on that land.

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At times, accidents can happen when transporting fossil fuels. In the past, oil spills have caused a lot of problems for animals living at sea.

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One of the ways we get gas from deep within the earth is by using water. Sometimes, that water is unsafe for people and animals. If we put that water straight back into our rivers, it can affect animals and plants.

This video explains fossil fuels as a traditional energy source.

it's getting hot in here

What is carbon dioxide?

Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring gas released from dead plants, fires and volcanoes. We breathe it out with every breath. It’s important to have some carbon dioxide in the air, as plants use it to make their food and it helps to keep the Earth warm.

How much is too much?

While we need some carbon dioxide, too much can harm the environment. This is because it acts like glass in a greenhouse, trapping the sun’s heat and making the Earth hotter.

What role do fossil fuels play?

When a fossil fuel is burned, it releases carbon dioxide into the air. In fact, it’s the main gas given off when fossil fuels are burned. The pollution from fossil fuels is a major contributor to the greenhouse effect.

Living in a hot-house

When there's too much carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, it acts like a blanket keeping more heat on earth. That's why we call this ‘global warming’. A hotter Earth means changes in our weather which can affect our sea levels, animal and plant life.

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This video provides an introduction to the issue of climate change.

Wrap up

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Think about the natural environment – bushland, plants, animals, trees, waterways. How are these effected by mining for fossil fuels?

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Carbon dioxide is always present in our atmosphere. We breathe it out, plants ‘breathe’ it in. We need it to keep the Earth warm. But too much Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can be damaging.

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The process of burning fossil fuels releases extra carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It creates a layer like the glass of a greenhouse, which traps the sun’s heat and causes the Earth to heat up.

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Global warming is a direct result of burning fossil fuels. It is affecting our climate, causing longer droughts, more intense storms, melting glaciers and other changes such as longer heatwaves.