Everyday we use energy; whether it’s walking, driving a car or even turning on the lights. but how do we get our energy? We get energy from fossil fuel. Most fossil fuels are nonrenewable and we use so much every day that one day we are going to run out. What are we going to do then? We also have alternative energy sources. Some are generated through the wind or even by falling water. We need to conserve our sources now, renewable and nonrenewable, there are many simple ways to do this.
There are three major fossil fuels, petroleum, natural gas and coal. Coal is the largest source of energy used worldwide and the largest source of carbon dioxide. Coal is a rock that is generally black or brown that is burned, it releases energy from its heat. It is decayed plants found in swamps that never fully decomposed because of the lack of oxygen, it is also known as an organic material. Coal has a complex chemical makeup of many minerals including sulfur, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen and small amounts of aluminum and zirconium. Coal is classified by in three ways, by its hardness, how much moisture it contains, and its heat content. (Illinois Coal Association, 2013)
We gain coal by mining it; there are two methods to mining. The first method is surface mining, other wise known as strip mining. Surface mines are large holes in the ground, that are dug up to one hundred feet deep, or however deep they need to be to reach the coal. They use a machine called a dragline to remove the dirt from the coal. The coal is then removed by smaller equipment and loaded into trucks to be shipped of to power plants or steel mines. The second method is called underground mining; they use shafts and tunnels that lead to open rooms where the coal is dug from the walls and removed. The coal is dug out using machines, then brought to the surface using conveyors. Pillars are used to keep the ceiling from collapsing in. (texas railroad commission’s kids world, 2013) Once they are done with the mine, the land must be restored according to the United States Surface Mining and Reclamation Act of 1977. (“The us surface,” 2013) The soil and rocks must be put back into the hole, topsoil must be replaced and the area is reseeded. This way the land can be used for building, crops, and wildlife habitats. (the NEED project, 2012)
Coal is plentiful so it is also cheap. Coal makes up forty percent of electricity, making it the leading source of energy production in the world. (dana1981, 2011) Coal is a stable source of energy and there is a great supply in the United States. It is also the cheapest source of energy. (Kentucky Coal Education, 2013) Coal causes a lot of air pollution and increases global warming because of the sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide that comes from the coal plant. The air pollution caused by the coal production at plants can cause harmful effects on human. It affects the respiratory system and makes it hard to breath and can eventually cause a lung disease...