- There are many consequences of burning fossil fuels for energy.winter coal image by Rick Smith from Fotolia.com
Burning coal to create energy can result in several environmental impacts. Harmful chemicals emitted into the atmosphere from coal plants includes oxides and mercury. New technology is available to help improve the environmental effects of coal-burning power plants. Since many of the new options remain in development stages, the environment and its inhabitants continue to deal with the consequences.
- When coal is burned to produce electricity, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide are emitted into the air. As a result, the two pollutants react in the atmosphere with other chemicals to produce acid rain. When acidic rain water reaches the ground it affects several different animals and plants. In addition to acid rain, acidic gases and particles form as well. They float into the atmosphere and come in contact with humans and cars.
- Using coal for energy harms surrounding bodies of water and threatens drinking water supplies. Although most pollutants leave coal plants through the air, toxins can escape from the plant in several ways. For instance, smokestacks must be cleaned to reduce pollution. However, when cleaning the smokestacks with water and other chemicals, toxic wastewater is produced. Metals such as lead and selenium can be found inside the water. To dispose of the wastewater, most coal plants empty it into nearby waterways.
- Significant data supports that global warming pollution is connected closely to coal-burning power plants. Out of the past 1,000 years, the hottest years have occurred since 1980. In the United States, 98 percent of carbon dioxide emissions come from firing fossil fuels for energy. Global warming threatens agriculture and all living species' quality of life.