Facts and Figures
Statistics are ubiquitous. The world is full of them. It doesn’t matter what you are reading, watching, or discussing, statistics always seem to come up. They are in everything from predicting weather patterns, analyzing politics, and determining which sports figure should be the Most Valuable Player, to insurance rates, financial investing, and figuring out if that restaurant you’ve been dying to visit deserves five stars or not. It goes on and on. Statistics are important because they can give us an understanding of what is being studied and what is being asked. They allow us to get to the core issues and help us make good decisions. Statistics can explain theories, support ideas, and help interpret data.
The Numbers Add Up
One of the more polarizing energy topics found today would be the use of coal and its knee deep in statistics. Whether or not you are for the use of coal, countless studies and articles exist that support your agenda. For example, according to the World Coal Association and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, coal provides the United States with energy security. So much so, that for the next 112 years, we have enough coal to suit our needs. They go on to say, that 93% of the coal consumed here in the U.S. is used for electricity and is important for the production of steel, paper, cement, and plastics. Thirty-nine percent of the energy generated in the U.S. comes from coal, followed by 27% for natural gas, and 19% by nuclear processes. Forty-six states in the U.S. burn coal to supply electricity with over 400 coal-fired plants in operation.
Is it Worth It?
From the above, it seems quite obvious coal is used abundantly, but at what cost? Here are some more statistics for you to consider: According to the U.S. EPA, 386,000 tons per year of hazardous air pollutants are produced from Coal-fired Power Plants. Over 40% of mercury emissions come from Coal plants alone. Eighty-four different hazardous air pollutants come from coal-fired plants. Emissions from coal plants vary depending on the type of coal burned, the control parameters in place at the plant, and the duration of plant operations. Effects depend on the proximity of human populations, weather patterns, topography, and the height of the plant stacks.
It’s easy to see that coal’s importance cannot be understated. It’s also easy to see that it comes with a cost. There are a myriad of facts and figures available to help you make a decision on where you might stand on the topic of coal. Dig deep and mine some data. Use the following links to study the statistics.
Toxic Air: The Case for Cleaning Up Coal-fired Power Plants. Rep. Washington, DC: American Lung Association, 2011. Print.
“Coal Statistics.” World Coal Association, n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2014. http://www.worldcoal.org/resources/coal-statistics/
“Coal Facts.” American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, n.d. 11 Apr. 2014.
“Surface Area Required to Replace Mountain Top Removal Coal Mining with Solar Power.” Land Art Generator Initiative, n.d. 11 Apr 2014. http://landartgenerator.org/blagi/archives/1700