Positive And Negative Effects Of Coal

1294 words - 5 pages

The natural resource that I am writing this paper on is coal. Coal is a cheap, dirty fossil fuel which we burn to create power. Coal is the most abundant in North America and in Russia, including the area around it. China also has a fairly good amount of coal in it too. Coal, like all of the other fossil fuels is nonrenewable and will eventually run out, in the not so near future. Coal is very important to many of the countries of the world. The countries that use the most coal are China, the United States, India, Russia, and Japan. These five countries “account for 76% of total global coal use.” (World Coal Association, 2014).
Lower quality coal is used for generating electricity. To generate electricity they burn the coal in a power plant to produce steam. The steam then travels through a turbine and generates power. The higher quality coal is used for making iron and steel. Coal is retrieved from nature by mining, either from an underground mine or from an aboveground mine. Due to the difficulty of underground mining coal from underground mines sells for more money. After the coal is mined it is processed to remove impurities from it. Lastly it is transported, “The cost of shipping coal can be more than the cost of mining it.” (US Energy Information Administration, 2013). Transportation methods include, truck, barge, train, and pipeline.
Coal has a very negative impact on the environment, one of the main impacts on the environment is the actual process of extracting the coal from the ground. The two ways that coal is mined, underground and surface, both have different effects on the environment. The first way that coal is mined is by digging tunnels and creating mineshafts underground and then removing the coal from the ground. With this method the surface is not damaged much, unless the tunnels cave in, but even then it is nothing compared to a surface mine. The main problem with underground mines is that they have a habit of filling up with methane gas. This is a big deal because methane tends to be very flammable and would be very dangerous if it were to catch fire when miners were working. So because methane is so dangerous in the mines, they have to pump it out of the mines and into the air, this is also bad because it is a strong greenhouse gas and negatively effects global warming.
The other way coal is mined is by scraping away large areas of the surface and digging down into the earth this way. This means destroying anything on top of the area that is going to be mined, which is bad. Of course after they are done, they do fill in the mine and replant the trees and what not. One particularly nasty type of surface mining is mountain top removal, which is where the tops of mountains are blown off and allowed to fall down into nearby valleys, destroying anything they cross to get to the valley and everything in the valley. Another problem with the mining of coal is that nearby water may become polluted.
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