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THE pRODuCTION AND consumption of oil are regarded as contributing to global warming and climate change. Associated greenhouse gas emissions and alteration of the landscape in some regions are the contributing factors. Exploration, production, and refining have some impact, but the consumption, through combustion, is occurring at a staggering rate. Air samples, covering many years, have been analyzed from Antarctic ice cores. These data provide a strong correlation between increasing greenhouse gases and increasing supply and demand for oil.

Crude oil is a hydrocarbon fossil fuel also known as petroleum. It is a natural substance that requires millions of years to form or mature. Oddly enough, crude oil is organic, although many think of it as inorganic. It is not renewable, considering the millions of years necessary for it to mature. The maturation process is an environmentally-friendly process because the organic matter decays without releasing gases to the atmosphere. This is known as an anaerobic condition, meaning in the absence of oxygen. In essence, the organic matter does not release carbon dioxide (CO2)or other gases to the atmosphere while maturing into oil. It is sequestered, keeping its contents locked in place. As time passes, if the deposit of organic matter is buried deeper and deeper, the temperature will also increase, leading to the generation of oil. Therefore, the existence of organic material, lack of oxygen, high temperature, and a long period of time, all combine to create crude oils of different characteristics. Many view crude oil as simply the black liquid extracted from the Earth that is then refined into gasoline. But, it has many uses, from plastics to pharmaceuticals, although it is most known and revered for its energy content. Its use as a source of energy results in greenhouse gas emissions, which are thought to contribute to, or cause, global warming.

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