What happens to all the heat generated by fossil fuel burning?

by Jose
(Boston, MA)

Greetings, I've been wondering what is the impact of the heat generated by the burning of fossil fuels on the environment? Does that heat completely escape our planet or does it also get trapped by the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere? I assume some of it gets also trapped by greenhouse gases, too.

Answer

Hello Jose,

The actual heat generated by the burning of fossil fuels have a very minor impact on global warming although the heat does indeed get trapped in the atmosphere by greenhouse gases (there will always be heat that escapes).

In the distant future, the heat generated by fossil fuels could actually play a significant role if emissions are higher than today.

In any event, this heat generated is extremely small when compared to the heat of the sun. However, over time concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will increase as a result of fossil fuel combustion and this will result in higher global surface temperatures.

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Apr 01, 2013
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More detail please?
by: Rene Wooller

I'm interested to get some numbers here - what fraction of heat is generated from the sun, what fraction is generated from fission in our hot core, what fraction is generated by chemical reactions including burning of fossil fuels, and what fraction is reflected back in from GHGs? If at all possible, please use references to support the claims.

Thanks,
Rene

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