How bad is coal?
Statistics alone should tell us all how bad coal is. Producing about 23 percent of the world's energy needs, coal is now sold cheaply. However, the impact of this fossil fuel on our health and our atmosphere is one dirty, expensive proposition. Coal emits more carbon per unit of energy than oil, and 80 percent more than natural gas. It accounts for 43 percent of global emissions (2.7 billion tons of it every year).
The two main ingredients of coal are particulate and sulphur dioxide. In addition to causing millions of new cases of respiratory disease every year, it causes 500,000 cases of premature death.
China and India are experiencing new pollution levels. In fact, they are at the same levels London experienced during its famous “fog” that killed 4000 people in 1952. While coal should be a fuel of the past, its use is growing in highly populated, poverty stricken nations. It is used mainly to produce electricity.
How bad is coal to the people who have to mine it? Black lung disease is rampant among workers who are stuck in this industry, not to mention the horror of the occasional “cave-in” where people are buried alive. This product must be transported by rail or barge, since it can't be shot through a pipe, or a wire, therefore making it clumsy and to many areas, inconvenient, if not impossible to deliver.
It makes one wonder why there are 100 new applications before the U.S. Government to open new coal processing plants, even though the applicants have agreed to comply with new environmental regulations, such as making taller smoke stacks so the pollution is released farther from the planet. Ah yes, rocket science rears its head.