Coal generates almost half the CO2 humans put in the atmosphere

Scientists know for certain that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are increasing and that the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas are largely responsible.

Of those fuels, coal is the greatest contributor of CO2 emissions. In 2005, according to the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (2005 was the most recent year available), coal was responsible for an estimated 40% of CO2 emissions, well ahead of any other fossil fuel.[[Marland, G, TA Boden, and RJ Andres. “Global, Regional, and National Fossil-Fuel CO2 Emissions, 1751-2005.” (Abstract) Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, 2008.]]

Since coal use has recently been increasing at a faster rate than the others, the percentage is even higher today.[[British Petroleum. BP Statistical Review of World Energy, (PDF) 2008.]] It is also higher if you look at fuel use historically: coal was used in industry and transportation long before oil and natural gas. According to the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, coal combustion accounted for an estimated 49% of all fossil fuel CO2 emissions from 1751 to 2005.[[Marland, G, TA Boden, and RJ Andres. “Global, Regional, and National Fossil-Fuel CO2 Emissions, 1751-2005.” (Abstract) Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, 2008.]]

Since carbon dioxide plays a key role in regulating the Earth’s temperature, this increase has led to rising temperatures around the globe.  Rising temperatures, in turn, have contributed to a wide variety of other effects, from sea level rise to more severe storms, and a wide variety of other effects.