1 What is coal? Coal is a substance we consider today a fossil fuel, created from all the dead plants millions of years ago. Coal is formed from prehistoric plants that when they die are not able to release the energy they built up from photosynthesis Typically the plants had fallen into large swamps and bogs, and then over time the dead plants lying on the bottom of the swamps and bogs were slowly covered with other dead plants and sediment build-up. Once buried the plants were subjected to high amounts of pressure and temperatures, which over long periods of time it becomes peat then eventually creates coal. We refer to coal as a “fossil fuel” today because it is created from prehistoric plants and the coal we have today has been millions of years since it was in plant form. Today we coal is still being created we just don’t fully recognize it because how long the process actually takes.
There are various types of air pollution contributors in California such as fire generated pollutants and vehicle traffic, which add particulate matter and carbon monoxide into the air we breathe. According to an article by Union of Concerned Scientists (Cars, trucks, and air pollution, 2014) particulate matter is made up of fine particles soot and metal that can pose serious threats to human health when deep in the lungs. Other pollutants emitted from vehicles are: nitrogen oxide which lowers the body’s defense system against respiratory infections such as pneumonia, carbon monoxide which blocks oxygen from reaching vital organs, sulfur dioxide which is emitted by both power plants and vehicles affect children and asthmatics, and hazardous air pollutants (toxics) which are chemicals that are linked to cancer, birth defects and other illnesses (Union of Concerned Scientists, 2014).
The energy we get from coal today comes from the energy that plants absorbed from the sun millions of years ago. When an area is to be mined, topsoil and subsoil are removed from the rock and so is another material, call overburden, to expose the bed of coal. All living plants give solar energy through photosynthesis. When plants die the energy gets out as the plants decay. The whole decaying process gets interrupted which prevents the release of the stored solar energy, then the energy stays locked in the coal. The plant material gets subjected to high temperatures and pressures which causes physical and chemical changes in the vegetation, transforming it into peat and then into coal. The formation of peat is the first step in the geological formation of fossil fuels such as coal. Peat plants is not only the first step for formation but they also capture CO2 itself. There are many effect to the environment when it comes to coal; an example is AMD which stands for Acid mine drainage; it includes the outflow of acidic water from coal mines or metal mines. Mines exposed rocks containing pyrite which reacts to water and air to form acid and dissolved iron and can easily wash into rivers and streams. Coal is a huge impact when it comes to hurting our
In the United States, Southern California is among the top cities ranked as having the worst air quality. According to the American Lung Association statement released annually, California has always been among the most polluted cities in the US in comparison to other states and the federal clean air act health standards. There are two primary air pollution agents in the city which include stationary sources and the transportation sources (Bereitschaft, Bradley and Keith Debbage, 612).
Coal has been combusted for fuel for thousands of years. However it was not until the last few decades that the consequences of coal use have been fully realized and effort has been taken to lessen the severe environmental harm that can come from the combustion of coal. The fact of the matter is no matter how much we may dislike coal and the detrimental effects of it we, as a nation, depend on coal to live our lives. When we flip a switch and a light turns on we don’t give it a second thought but its not always that simple. Aside from coal’s significant contribution to climate change there have been other disasters stemming from coal and specifically the storage of contaminants extracted from coal combustion. One of the biggest man made environmental disasters of the millennia occurred just outside of Kingston, Tennessee in late 2008. This disaster though not as well publicized as many other disasters has been estimated to have released over 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash several times more contaminants by volume than the Exxon Valdeez oil spill in 1989 (Initial Emergency).
The major contributors to global warming are four types of greenhouse gases. (Fig. 2). These gases ultimately lead to the greenhouse effect. (Fig. 3). Carbon dioxide is essential to living because when a plant goes through photosynthesis, it is converting Carbon dioxide and water into oxygen that humans need to breathe. (UCSB, 2015) Although CO2 is essential for life, it can have harmful effects. Fossil fuels are any natural fuels that were formed on the Earth’s surface before humans existed. These natural fuels include: Coal, oil and natural gases. Humans have to burn these fuels in order to create vital essentials to life such as energy and electricity. Unlike plants, when we burn these fuels for electricity and energy, Carbon dioxide is released into the Earth’s atmosphere. These gases eventually trap the heat that is supposed to escape the Earth, thus creating higher temperatures on
It’s relentlessly burnt for energy, accentuating the Global Warming level to substantially enormous degrees. What’s the big deal about global warming? What is it doing to us? – Global warming is the single biggest threat to Humanity, the gradual increase of Earth’s over all temperature due to Green House Gasses (carbon dioxide, CFCs, and other pollutants) trapping the Sun’s heat inside Earth’s atmosphere. This occurs due to Human activity, burning coal leading to increased amount of carbon dioxide levels, destroying Co2’s natural consumers (Trees, Marine life
The second form of coal is metallurgical coal. A Metallurgical coal mostly used to make/ produce many steel products. 74% of steel products today are made up of coal. Thermal coal is abundant which means it has a lower carbon content, this also means that the Thermal coal contains a higher level or moisture than metallurgical coal. As well as coal being used to provide/ generate power to many places in the world, coal is also popularly used in the cement manufacturing and as a component of thousands of other products. Both of the types of coal are formed in similar ways, these are from decomposed vegetation that was compressed beneath several layers a diverse variety of sand, sediment and rock at a very high temperature over millions of years. Coal is typically found as layers that are also known as coal beds or veins that are also called coal seams and in Australia, coal is mined above and below the ground. As well as the 2 types of coal that were mentioned before, Thermal and metallurgical, coal can be put into 3 other
Burning Coal: Although coal is really burned by people to create new energy, it may also mess up the atmosphere that surrounds it and therefore only adds onto global warming; this could easily kill species, causing them to become extinct.
Consequentially, such carbon based gases “pollute the air near the earth’s surface”, create smog, and increase the amounts of atmospheric greenhouse gases which contribute to global warming as diagrammed in Figure 1 (West, 2009). Coal, for instance, does not always burn cleanly as it often includes toxic elements (West, 2009). Thus the use of coal is hazardous for
Paramount to note, Texas is the largest emitter of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in America. According to a yearly report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Texas released 652.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2016 (Leibowicz). The figure represents 10% of the entire country’s carbon emission. Markedly, the state is endowed with natural raw resources that are essential in the production of petrochemicals and chemical goods. However, exploitation of these natural resources by the power plants and other manufacturing industries result in carbon pollution. The carbon emissions from the coal, petroleum, and natural gas sectors are the primary contributors to climate change in the country. For instance, carbon pollution has resulted in severe storms, floods, wildfires, and heatwaves. In 2011, Texas experienced the hottest summers in the country with some days experiencing over 100oF (Leibowicz). Also, in the same year, more than 1500 people in Texas lost their homes due to destructive wildfires. Additionally, carbon emissions have resulted in an increase of respiratory infections such as asthma and chest pains. As a result of the adverse effects of carbon pollution, the Texas Air control board should adopt a clean air program which will ensure decrease of carbon pollution.
Los Angeles, along with its surrounding cities, are known by researchers to contain the worst smog in the United States. There are estimated to be over one thousand deaths from diseases triggered from air pollution each year just in the Los Angeles area. The poor air quality in Southern California leads to more deaths than in any other area in the country (Danelski). Beijing is 10 to 20 times worse than Los Angeles (Haynie).
Main gases are emitted from coal fired and lignite based thermal power plants are CO2, NOx, SOx, and air-borne inorganic particles such as fly ash, carbonaceous material (soot), suspended particulate matter (SPM), and other trace gas species. Thermal power plants, using about 70% of total coal in India4 (Garg et. al., 2002), are among the Large Point Sources (LPS) having significant contribution (47% each for CO2 and SO2) in the total LPS emissions in India.
In the article Does Air Pollution Help Reduce Global Warming by Evan Galloway, the author starts off with naming some of the many contributors to global warming. One example he uses is a fossil fuel that we know as coal. Galloway goes on to describe what is released from the coal when it is burned (which is carbon dioxide and sulfate) and the affect it has on our atmosphere. When sulfate is released into the air it forms aerosols, which contribute to our pollution and acid rain. (Galloway, 2009)