The Pros And Cons Of Coal

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Introduction
Coal is a variety of solid, combustible and organic sedimentary rocks formed from vegetation that has been consolidated between other rock strata and altered by the combined effects of pressure and heat over millions of years (IEA, 2017).
Around the world, requirements for energy and electricity are met by fossil fuels amongst which coal is the most abundant and broadly distributed. It is the most common fuel choice because it is a secure and low cost energy source and is relatively easy to mine, ship, and store. Coal is the second source of primary energy after oil and is mostly used for power generation. Over 40% of worldwide electricity is produced from coal (IEA, 2017).
According to Botkin and Keller, the annual world consumption of coal is about 7 billon metric tons which would be sufficient for about 120 years at the current rate of use. There are about 18500 coal mines in the United States alone with combined reserves of 262 billion tons and 1.2 billion tons of production in 2008. At present rates of mining, US reserves will last nearly 250 years but if the consumption increases, it will not last nearly as long (Botkin & Keller, 2011).
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Pollution from coal-fired power plants is released as fly ash, bottom ash and waste gases. Coal-fired power plants produce large quantities of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, the key pollutants in the formation of acid rain. Acid rain acidifies water bodies and harms forests and coastal ecosystems. Coal-fired power plant is the largest single source of atmospheric mercury emissions which is toxic to the developing brain, and exposure in the womb can cause health problems in children. Mercury released in the air gets into the waterways and is accumulated in fishes which are consumed by humans. Since, coal is the most carbon intensive fossil fuel, its burning emits carbon dioxide responsible for greenhouse effect and climate change (Greenpeace,

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