Although clean energy, like wind and solar, are gaining popularity worldwide, about 30% of U.S. energy is still sourced from coal-burning power plants. With that comes serious consequences for our collective health, the health of the planet, and how our political system is financially influenced. Just follow the money…
Nearly $6.8million was spent on campaign contributions connected to coal mining interests in 2018, according to Open Secrets – Center for Responsive Politics.
How do annual contributions (along with lobbyists funded by the coal industry) impact our democracy? Coal costs taxpayers billions of dollars in government-approved subsidies even though polls show that the majority of the American public wants clean energy.
With approximately 400 active coal plants remaining in the United States, and the increasing threat of climate change, it’s time to cut through any confusion and dramatically reduce CO2 emissions.
The Marketing Myth of “Clean Coal”
Enormous amounts of toxic waste, containing carcinogenic compounds as well as heavy metals (like mercury), is generated by coal mining and coal burning. The byproduct of energy generated by coal, referred to as slurry or coal ash, adds a whole other threat. Stored in lagoons that frequently leak or burst, it can contaminate water and ruin nearby communities.
Equally disturbing is a standard process for obtaining coal called mountaintop removal or strip mining. It involves clear-cutting forests (which naturally produce clean air) and then blasting off the tops of mountains in order to access the fossil fuel. Make no mistake, it’s environmentally destructive and it puts people and children in harm’s way.
This isn’t exactly the picture the coal industry wants you to visualize. They like to push the idea of “clean coal” even though the technologies they promote are nowhere near where they need to be for us to consider coal a sensible energy source.
Here are some statistics that illustrate how important it is to reign in the coal industry and make the national, as well as global, switch to truly clean energy:
- 76,000 coal miners have died of black lung disease since 1968, according to the U.S. Department of Labor
- An estimated 7 million people die prematurely each year due to air pollution, according to the World Health Organization’s 2012 report
- Despite the coal industry’s PR around job creation, energy efficiency and renewable energy are generating far more jobs
- The largest source of mercury emmissions in America, and mercury-contaminated seafood worldwide, comes from coal-fired power plants
- Babies exposed to mercury through breast milk (and their mother’s blood in the womb) are at risk for brain development issues and a lowered IQ
- Through mining and producing electricity, coal power plants use as much water as 1 billion people, according to a report commissioned by Greenpeace
- Mountaintop removal has destroyed or damaged approximately 2,000 miles of streams in the Appalachian region and is predicted to destroy 1.4 million acres of forests and mountaintops by 2020, according to the Sierra Club
- Much of the acid rain that’s produced is attributed to coal-fired power plants, which damages plants, soil, and aquatic life while also accelerating the decay of buildings and treasured monuments
- Per unit of energy produced, more greenhouse gasses are released by coal-fired power plants than any other source of electricity, according to the U.S. government
Climate Change Can’t Wait Any Longer
With the increasing emotional and economic burden of climate chaos, we all need to step up to the plate and move past dirty energy such as oil, coal, natural gas, and nuclear. Time is of the essence and we can’t wait on politicians, policy changes, or corporate responsibility alone. We must transform our own habits and create a ripple effect outward for a healthier world and future. We can do this!
Whether you find it unacceptable that the coal industry and its product puts the lives of miners’ as well as the general public at risk of premature death, jeopardizes ecosystems like the Apalache mountains, contributes greenhouse gases to climate change, or financially influences political representatives to create policies in their favor, use your purchasing power to help reshape the system.
Let your voice be heard through at least one of these action ideas too:
- Scale back on residential energy
- Scale back on commercial energy use (who can you talk with at work or school about making these improvements?)
- Increase energy efficiency for residential and commercial use
- Sign up for green energy programs (contact your local utilities company and ask if they offer one or request that they do)
- Install clean renewables such as solar panels, solar tiles, or mini wind turbines
- Support land and water conservation through reputable, non-profit organizations
- If you have an electric car, make sure it’s charged through clean energy as much as possible
- Tell your representatives to support wind and solar energy over coal, natural gas, nuclear, or oil and encourage your friends to do the same through social media
- Work to get money out of political campaigns (the coal industry has a long history of financially influencing republicans as well as democrats)
- Vote for political candidates who have the best track record for supporting renewables and refusing campaign contributions from fossil fuel industries
My mission: As a Holistic Health Coach & Eco Expert, I’m dedicated to leading you straight to the core of what it takes to enjoy a new level of vitality, desired weight loss, sustainability, and detoxification. Enjoy my transformative programs and experience true health with true purpose!
 GreenAmerica.org. “Coal: Why It’s Dirty.” Accessed July 8th, 2019. http://www.greenamerica.org/programs/climate/dirtyenergy/coal/whydirty.cfm