Environmental and Societal Impacts of Coal
There is a spectrum of environmental and societal impacts of coal that occur during the mining process, preparation, combustion process, the waste storage and transportation. The mining process of coal occurs in various methods but every step damages the environment. The soil and water catchments get contaminated with the chemicals used to carry out the mining process, soil subsidence does occur often, and the air we breathe gets polluted with methane, along with social effects such as poor working conditions for miners and residents who are forced relocate. Further, coal as a source of energy has some significant benefits such as less costly and abundant in supply.
Coal energy is non-renewable energy which is used to generate electric power in manufacturing industries. The source has significant benefits and disadvantages when used to generate electricity. For example, coal is an affordable source of energy due to its stable prices as compared to other fuel sources (Werner, 145). Further, the process of burning coal is easier, and the amount of energy produced is high upon combustion. On the other hand, there are various disadvantages associated with coal mining. For instance, it produces large amounts of carbon dioxide which leads to global warming and climatic change (Yao, 121). The process is not environmentally friendly due to the harmful products produces such as nitrogen that causes pollution. Additionally, it is a non-renewable source of energy that cannot be relied upon for power production.
Conversely, coal product as one of the sources of energy has impacted the society and the environment at large. The coal-fired power plants in the world mainly those from developed nations such as the USA have led to global warming. The release of carbon dioxide and nitrogen to the atmosphere have caused pollution and acid rain. As a result, the effects extend to the human health issues and deaths in the society (Kowalska, 134). Further, the solid wastes and other acid mine drainages get into the water and in the long run, get to affect the aquatic lives along with the surrounding that depends on seawater.
However, this kind of source of energy cannot be relied on to meet the social needs and demands. The high demand envisaged in most countries concerning the resource has led to the depletion of the planet resources such as coal that is non-renewable. The negative impacts encountered to the society and the environment provides a shred of evidence that alternative sources of energy need to be adopted to help our environment. In that view, renewable sources of energies such as solar and wind should be the alternatives (Weitemeyer, 20). These sources are sustainable in the form of environmental protection as far as power is concerned. The two alternative sources of energy are vital, as they will protect and preserve the natural resources around.
In summary, coal is one of the most preferred sources of energy, mainly by the developed nations due to its affordability and availability. The source has significant benefits to the users such as less costly as compared to other sources and also the mining process is simple. However, coal has disadvantages typically when carrying out the mining process. It causes global warming due to the release of toxic substances such carbon and nitrogen that cause pollution and acid rain. In that view, alternative sources of energy need to be adopted such as wind and sun, as they have been proven to be sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Kowalska, Izabela Jonek. “Risk management in the hard coal mining industry: Social and environmental aspects of collieries’ liquidation.” Resources Policy 41 (2014): 124-134.
Weitemeyer, Stefan, et al. “Integration of Renewable Energy Sources in future power systems: The role of storage.” Renewable Energy 75 (2015): 14-20.
Werner, Angela K., et al. “Environmentally-related health impact assessment of coal seam gas development activities in Queensland, Australia.” Proceedings of the 36th Annual Conference of the International Association for Impact Assessment, Aichi-Nagoya, Japan. 2016.
Yao, Z. T., et al. “A comprehensive review on the applications of coal fly ash.” Earth-Science Reviews 141 (2015): 105-121.
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