I wouldn’t normally say this, but I think I have really started to come around to the idea of alternate energy. Well actually, I am for any kind of energy even nuclear, just not coal. Coal has become one of the biggest nuisances in America’s pursuit to light our homes and charge our iPods.
Coal has become an obsolete energy source. Cheap, when compared to other methods such as solar energy, but the real cost of coal is the damage it has to the environment — humans included.
Strip mining which is a version of surface mining, is the process of removing large amounts of earth to reach coal deposits below the surface. It is dismantling America’s country side one acre at a time.
Millions of tons of earth are displaced for each mine just to get the black ore so it can be burned in inefficient coal plants around the U.S.
Florida has six active coal plants currently active but plans are to eliminate one in Crystal River by the year 2020 in favor of a nuclear plant. That’s fine and dandy but that is eight years from now. The Tampa Bay Times reported that the plant is one of the top polluters in the country, which makes sense as to why it should go but I just wish, for the people of Citrus County, it was sooner.
An article by Arstechnica.com has brought light to the otherwise dark world of coal mining that is truly horrific. Besides the massive amounts of CO2 being dumped into the environment by coal plants, the process of strip mining is destroying America’s landscapes in the pursuit of the black rocks. Five-hundred peaks have been removed from the Appalachian Mountains and more than 2,000 miles streams eliminated.
Nature pays the majority of the bill in our search for coal but it is the people living near the mines who are the real losers. Melissa Ahern of Washington State University summarizes the grim life of those who live near the mines, “Their property value goes down to zero, then they get ill, then they die.”
Communities that have the unfortunate privilege of being located near the mines are known to suffer increased birth defects, kidney disease, black lung and many others. The plants themselves aren’t any better to live near either. They are loud, put awful smoke into the air, and the trains or trucks that deliver the coal are noisy and just as dirty as the contents they deliver. It is hard to compare what is really paying the bigger price, but the real issue is why anyone should be paying anymore.
Coal has a strong history with American pioneering. It powered our early trains and heated our homes. But today we have made technological strides to move away from such methods in favor of cleaner, more efficient technologies, yet we still rely on burning fossil fuels and coal for energy.
The technology exists for a better way to make electricity. Why still spend time on pipe dreams like “clean” coal? A new port in Jacksonville was open specifically for coal imports from Colombia, which really shows what mentality the government has towards stopping coal plants in the near future.
The U.S. energy sector accounts for 41 percent of CO2 released into the air and coal accounts for half. Legislation has been asking for cleaner cars and environmentally friendly cutlery but only because lobbying for coal has reached the levels of pro tobacco and firearms.
Do your part to try and stop the declining wilderness and health of those near coal plants and mines. Turn your lights off when you leave the room and send a letter to your senator. Coal should have no place in America’s future.