Forestry glossary

Fossil fuel

Solid, liquid, or gaseous fuel formed in the ground over millions of years from fossilized plant and animal remains exposed to high temperatures and pressures. Petroleum (crude oil), natural gas, and coal are fossil fuels. Fossil fuel reserves are being used much faster than they can rebuild and therefore, are non-renewable resources. The high rate of combustion of fossil fuels in industrialized societies contributes to global warming because natural processes have a limited capacity to absorb the carbon dioxide emitted. (See also carbon sequestration.)