Rebecca Virginia

Disadvantages of Coal Burning

A letter to Donald Trump.

 The U.S. should reduce the amount of coal we mine and burn along with the emissions of CO2. One reason the U.S. really needs to reduce CO2 emissions is because burning coal causes so many health problems. According to a video produced by the Sierra Club, “Coal 101: What’s wrong with Coal” burning coal generates smog, which can cause asthma, chest pains, and breathing problems. The pollution caused by burning coal leads to 12,000 emergency room visits and more than 100 billion dollars in health costs each year. It is a serious problem but coal miners, especially the miners that have been laid-off, will argue that not everyone has asthma so it’s not as big as a problem as it has been portrayed. Well, not everyone has asthma but a good amount do and those people matter. Men and women that don’t have asthma are still breathing in all the smog and CO2 that is released when the coal is burned every single day! All of the people living today have a chance of having medical problems other than asthma that relate to coal burning because of breathing in the pollution.

Think about the younger generation these days. They are the future! In about ten years or so everyone will be so hapless! Tons of people will have illnesses due to the mining and burning of coal. More people might be living paycheck to paycheck to pay for hospital bills and doctor check-ups. They have been breathing in this air their whole lives and they are going to continue to breathe in this polluted air the rest of their life if we don’t take action and do something to fix it. Coal ash, the leftovers from burning coal, is dumped into pits. Living near one of these toxic coal ash pits can be worse for a kids health than smoking a whole pack of cigarettes a day! Coal pollution also contains toxic mercury that damages the nervous system. This is especially dangerous for babies and young children because it can cause developmental problems. Also, one out of ten children in the U.S. suffer from asthma and it is the number one reason kids miss school because of illness.

Another huge reason to cut back on the emission of carbon dioxide is because burning coal severely damages the environment. Burning coal generates smog and releases tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is bad because it is a greenhouse gas. Since the carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas it absorbs the sun’s warmth, which warms the Earth. With the warming of the Earth, the ozone layer abates which allows harmful UV rays come into the atmosphere and can cause illnesses. This process contributes to global warming. Also, mercury rains down into oceans, rivers, and streams and contaminates our seafood. Another reason burning coal severely damages the environment is because the leftover coal ash from burning coal is dumped into pits across the country and left there. The problem with the coal ash being left there is even though it has already been burned the coal ash is still emitting CO2 and toxic mercury. There is a total of 140 million tons of coal ash that is dumped in these pits and the amount of toxic waste keeps growing larger and larger. The amount of toxic waste we have accumulated can fill more than 400,000 Olympic sized swimming pools! Strip mining clearcut forests and literally blows the top off the mountains. Also, strip mining causes toxic waste to be dumped into streams and contaminates our drinking water.

One big debate in this election is about creating jobs. According to Seth Borenstein's article “Climate Change: Where Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump Stand,“ alternative energy is better because solar power employs four times as more people than coal mining does. Creating jobs is a good thing but so is keeping the environment healthy and burning coal is not doing that. A perk for solar and wind energy is that they don’t cause health complications. Solar and wind energy might not be as reliable but it’s better to live in a healthy environment that doesn’t have global warming and toxic coal ash pits everywhere.

Climate change and the problems coal creates are real and with all these reasons why coal mining and burning is so bad I have no reason to think that it is okay to continue to mine and burn coal at the rate the U.S. does. The solution might not be abrupt but the emissions of CO2 need to start abating.

North Fork Middle School

Mrs. Shrum's Eighth Grade English

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