After hundreds of years of mining, the world’s worst and most dangerous pollutant out of all is coal. Although it is the cheapest and produces almost 40% of the world’s electricity, the mining and burning of coal is responsible for half of all carbon dioxide emissions globally.
However, a new study says that even coal _waiting _to be burned is dangerous. Dr. Akshaya Jha and Professor Nicholas Z. Muller in the National Bureau of Economic Research discovered that for every 10% increase in coal storage, there is a 0.07% increase in fine particulate air pollutants that can reach up to 25 miles away from the coal plants. This means that there is now evidence that coal storage even creates a dangerous, more polluted environment. So in order to diminish the effects of coal, we should not even be mining it.
The danger of storing coal
Dr. Akshaya says that sitting coal increases adult mortality by 1.1 percent and infant mortality by 6.6 percent. These pollutants affect children 6 times more than adults. So not only are these pollutants threaten the health of our environment, but they are threatening the health of people as well. If anything, this only further proves the need for us to transition away from coal as soon as we possibly can.
The increased danger of transporting coal
But what if the coal is on the move, and not just stationary?
If the pollutants can already reach up to 25 miles away just sitting, imagine that pile of coal going over 50 miles per hour on a truck. That means that every mile it travels, it leaves up to 25 miles of pollutant behind it, if not more depending on the speed at which the pile is transported. In the representation below, we can see what the difference between idle coal and transported coal.
Unfortunately, the new administration is pushing coal now more than ever. This means there is a potential for the mining of even more coal. The pollutants will only rise if we continue on this non-renewable trend.
A better future ahead
The good news is that there are several environmental regulations on coal. This means that coal is already on its way out, which makes room for renewables. These environmental regulations are even creating more jobs due to the need for restoration, especially in coal country.
A list of regulations on coal is provided here. And here is a map of coal plants affected by EPA regulations.
In order to create a cleaner, healthier future for our earth, we need to switch to renewable energy sooner than later. Wind, solar, and many other renewable energy resources can easily replace coal, reduce emissions, and save Americans money. It is cheaper and safer to install renewable energy and there is no transportation or mining involved. So why not switch over today?