SCIENCE: The Hidden Cost of Coal Power

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 31
Like Tree2Likes

Thread: The Hidden Cost of Coal Power

  1. #1
    TheMissingno.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    No.
    Posts
    15,034
    Trophies
    Blog Entries
    408

    Default The Hidden Cost of Coal Power

    Each year, the US sets off the equivalent of 20-30 atomic bombs worth of explosives, effectively obliterating entire features of its own landscape. Why? To get at the coal that's inconveniently located beneath the mountains of Appalachia.

    That jaw-dropping figure came towards the end of a session at last month's meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science called "The True Cost of Coal." Most methods of resource extraction and use come with various forms of what are called externalities, or costs that aren't included in the final product, but distributed across society as a whole in the form of things like environmental degradation and damage to health.

    Calculating these hidden costs is obviously a challenge, and the researchers involved doing so tend to produce a range of values to reflect the uncertainty. But for coal, most of the estimates suggests that its true cost is about double the price of the energy produced with it, and may be quite a bit more.

    Melissa Ahern of Washington State University described some of the environmental impacts that have resulted from the mountaintop removal process in Appalachia: over 500 peaks gone, 2,000 miles of streams eliminated, and over 140 billion gallons of coal slurry currently held in storage ponds. But her research has focused primarily on the health costs of the mining.

    This presents a bit of a challenge, given that the Appalachian communities where the mining takes place are extremely poor, and poverty and low education are associated with a lot of health problems. In addition, many of the problems associated with coal mining—particulates from the mining process and water contamination—don't respect the county borders that divide up the health care data.

    But even after adjusting for the variations in things like income and education, counties with active coal mines came out far worst in many measures of health. These include the problems you'd expect from mining, such as cardiopulmonary and respiratory issues, black lung, hypertension, and kidney disease. But they also include things like a 25 percent increase in birth defects in mining counties.

    Ahern summed up the fate of people located near mines rather grimly: "Their property value goes down to zero, then they get ill, then they die."
    Note: This is not the full article. You can read the full article here.

    I've seen a lot of commercials and billboards about how clean coal power is. I know a lot of alternative power production technologies are not ready yet, but I believe we are definitely past the point where we need to use coal.
    That's nice.

  2. #2
    Registered User Lilac Hill's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    1,916

    Default Re: The Hidden Cost of Coal Power

    What would you propose using in the meantime?
    *gone*

  3. #3
    追放されたバカ
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    California
    Posts
    4,123
    Blog Entries
    137

    Default Re: The Hidden Cost of Coal Power

    But isn't coal another of those fossil fuels that causes global warming the more we consume it? It'll already be too late if these alternative power sources are ready to be used, which is why we'll need to quicken the process before climate changes causes permanent damage to the environment.

  4. #4
    Hψ=Eψ H-con's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    63°25′50″N10°23′42″E
    Posts
    4,676
    Blog Entries
    52
    Follow H-con On Twitter Add H-con on Facebook Add H-con on Google+ Add H-con on MySpace
    Add H-con on Linkedin Follow H-con on Tumblr Follow H-con on Flickr Visit H-con's Youtube Channel

    Default Re: The Hidden Cost of Coal Power

    Quote Originally Posted by Glinneh View Post
    What would you propose using in the meantime?
    Nuclear? Seeing how that is the best way to reliably secure power with no CO2, it's the best option if you ask me, and investing in better nuclear technology is one step until we have better solutions for renewable energy.

    That, or basically anything that doesn't kill the environment and kill people... Coal causes a bunch of problems, investing more into coal is like walking willingly into a minefield.

  5. #5
    The Creeping Darkness Tsuness's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Northpoint, Usea
    Posts
    1,370
    Blog Entries
    7

    Default Re: The Hidden Cost of Coal Power

    US is finally starting to get back in the Nuclear power game. Two new nuclear power plants have been given the go ahead to be built. Hopefully public perception will be positive and we can start moving in that direction. Have to keep using fossil fuels till we can become independent of them, though.
    Astronomy Club... you know you want to.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaname Madoka
    If someone tells me that it’s wrong to hope, I will tell them they’re wrong every time.

  6. #6
    TheMissingno.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    No.
    Posts
    15,034
    Trophies
    Blog Entries
    408

    Default Re: The Hidden Cost of Coal Power

    Either way, they should stop blowing up mountains in Appalachia since there is enough coal mined in the west that we can not do that.
    That's nice.

  7. #7
    The Creeping Darkness Tsuness's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Northpoint, Usea
    Posts
    1,370
    Blog Entries
    7

    Default Re: The Hidden Cost of Coal Power

    Quote Originally Posted by TheMissingno. View Post
    Either way, they should stop blowing up mountains in Appalachia since there is enough coal mined in the west that we can not do that.
    It's all about profits. I'm sure if the people mining the Appalachian Mountains had a cheaper place to access, they would because it presents more profits. Not agreeing with the intent, but I see why they do mine there.
    Astronomy Club... you know you want to.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaname Madoka
    If someone tells me that it’s wrong to hope, I will tell them they’re wrong every time.

  8. #8
    Registered User Lilac Hill's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    1,916

    Default Re: The Hidden Cost of Coal Power

    Quote Originally Posted by H-con View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Glinneh View Post
    What would you propose using in the meantime?
    Nuclear? Seeing how that is the best way to reliably secure power with no CO2, it's the best option if you ask me, and investing in better nuclear technology is one step until we have better solutions for renewable energy.

    That, or basically anything that doesn't kill the environment and kill people... Coal causes a bunch of problems, investing more into coal is like walking willingly into a minefield.
    a) Nuclear power is costly to get up and going. If you're going to use it, you'd want in to be a long term thing. Not a gap solution.
    b) Fukushima/Chenobyl
    *gone*

  9. #9
    TheMissingno.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    No.
    Posts
    15,034
    Trophies
    Blog Entries
    408

    Default Re: The Hidden Cost of Coal Power

    Quote Originally Posted by Glinneh View Post
    b) Fukushima/Chenobyl
    You're kidding, right?
    That's nice.

  10. #10
    Map god, apparently Shiny Metagross's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Las Vegas, USA
    Posts
    435
    Trophies
    Blog Entries
    26

    Default Re: The Hidden Cost of Coal Power

    You'll get no argument from me about meltdowns being a scary prospect, but do you know how many reactors there are in the US? Wikipedia says there were 104 in the year 2008. That we've ever had exactly one major meltdown tells me the probability is very low given proper maintenance and competent workers. Also, unlike in Japan, we have vast stretches of open land. Much of the Nevadan interior is Government-owned desert where atomic testing takes place, and where nuclear power generation could take place away from any sizable population center, not to mention earthquakes are rare in Nevada. This or any similar location could make for nearly risk-free nuclear energy, more than can be said of fossil fuels. Nuclear wast could also be stored in the least desirable areas, where development likely won't happen until the waste has decayed, or at least until we figure out some better way of disposing of it.

    According to researchers studying ice cores, the atmosphere tends to take on a lot of carbon dioxide immediately before global warming goes into full swing, same thing happens every cycle, only our use of fossil fuels, as any good chemist can tell you, releases a lot of carbon dioxide, and we're doing it a lot faster than how it normally happens. Now if we take a look at fossil and geological records, all the potential flooding in certain areas like the world's most populous and valuable cities, drought in others like much of the most productive farm land, and overall famine becomes a perfectly logical guess as to what will happen this time, since it's happened before at the high points in the global warming/cooling cycle.

    Both considered, nuclear isn't perfect, but it's a lot less imperfect than fossil fuels in my opinion.

    EDIT:Here is the Government chart the number 104 comes from.
    Last edited by Shiny Metagross; 24th March 2012 at 01:48 AM.

    Banner by Blue Dragon | White FC: 3096 6256 6818 | Black 2 FC: 2967 7719 9235

  11. #11
    Registered User Lilac Hill's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    1,916

    Default Re: The Hidden Cost of Coal Power

    Quote Originally Posted by TheMissingno. View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Glinneh View Post
    b) Fukushima/Chenobyl
    You're kidding, right?
    No, why would I be?

    Until you can guarantee that there will be absolutely no meltdowns under any circumstances, it's not worth the potential cost, which is the exact thing you're complaining about with coal.
    *gone*

  12. #12
    Hψ=Eψ H-con's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    63°25′50″N10°23′42″E
    Posts
    4,676
    Blog Entries
    52
    Follow H-con On Twitter Add H-con on Facebook Add H-con on Google+ Add H-con on MySpace
    Add H-con on Linkedin Follow H-con on Tumblr Follow H-con on Flickr Visit H-con's Youtube Channel

    Default Re: The Hidden Cost of Coal Power

    Quote Originally Posted by Glinneh View Post
    Until you can guarantee that there will be absolutely no meltdowns under any circumstances, it's not worth the potential cost, which is the exact thing you're complaining about with coal.
    I'm pretty sure whatever damages nuclear power has done pales in comparison to whatever health and environmental damage coal power has caused. Compared to the few accidents in nuclear power, it's a foolish argument to say that coal power is safer than nuclear when it's clear what causes the most short term and long term damage. It's certainly worth the potential cost, if you build it safe to begin with.

  13. #13
    Banana eating Gengar GengarEatBanana's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    CN.M.V.A
    Posts
    1,749
    Blog Entries
    66

    Default Re: The Hidden Cost of Coal Power

    Nuclear Powerplants are actually much safer than Coal Powerplants. Not only do they produce less Carbon Dioxide but they also are extremely efficient if they're put in the right location. In stable regions not prone to earthquakes like Australia or as someone said, Nevada, they are actually the best option.

    Accidents like Fukushima/Chenobyl paint Nuclear Power in a worse light than it is because the deaths/casualties all occur in a similar timeframe. Coal Powerplants and mining has been killing people for centuries, however it rarely happens all at once. Often these Nuclear accidents are caused by inefficient handling anyway. Fukushima was supposed to be out of operation a few years before the disaster.

    The problem with Nuclear Energy really is that it's quite costly. However in the long run it's a much better option.
    White FC: 2237-0577-3400
    Bulbagarden PO Server!
    P.World | N.World

  14. #14
    Registered User Lilac Hill's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    1,916

    Default Re: The Hidden Cost of Coal Power

    Quote Originally Posted by H-con View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Glinneh View Post
    Until you can guarantee that there will be absolutely no meltdowns under any circumstances, it's not worth the potential cost, which is the exact thing you're complaining about with coal.
    I'm pretty sure whatever damages nuclear power has done pales in comparison to whatever health and environmental damage coal power has caused. Compared to the few accidents in nuclear power, it's a foolish argument to say that coal power is safer than nuclear when it's clear what causes the most short term and long term damage. It's certainly worth the potential cost, if you build it safe to begin with.
    You're missing the point here.

    We're looking for a temporary solution for coal (which apparently is so bad that we cannot possibly use it for a second longer, lest we all die) until renewable sources can provide the same amount of power for a relatively similar monetary cost.

    Nuclear is not a good temporary solution. It is a long, long term investment due to the amount of money it requires to get started. If there is a meltdown within this proposed gap period of time, the cost to people would be greater than sticking with coal for a bit longer.

    Quote Originally Posted by GengarEatBanana View Post
    Nuclear Powerplants are actually much safer than Coal Powerplants. Not only do they produce less Carbon Dioxide but they also are extremely efficient if they're put in the right location. In stable regions not prone to earthquakes like Australia or as someone said, Nevada, they are actually the best option.

    Accidents like Fukushima/Chenobyl paint Nuclear Power in a worse light than it is because the deaths/casualties all occur in a similar timeframe. Coal Powerplants and mining has been killing people for centuries, however it rarely happens all at once. Often these Nuclear accidents are caused by inefficient handling anyway. Fukushima was supposed to be out of operation a few years before the disaster.

    The problem with Nuclear Energy really is that it's quite costly. However in the long run it's a much better option.
    Better than renewable?

    Yes, I know accidents are rare. But not rare enough for my liking.
    *gone*

  15. #15
    Hψ=Eψ H-con's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    63°25′50″N10°23′42″E
    Posts
    4,676
    Blog Entries
    52
    Follow H-con On Twitter Add H-con on Facebook Add H-con on Google+ Add H-con on MySpace
    Add H-con on Linkedin Follow H-con on Tumblr Follow H-con on Flickr Visit H-con's Youtube Channel

    Default Re: The Hidden Cost of Coal Power

    Quote Originally Posted by Glinneh View Post
    Yes, I know accidents are rare. But not rare enough for my liking.
    I don't get your logic here. You say that accidents are rare, but not rare enough. However, coal power causes much more environmental and health damage than whatever damage nuclear have done (and quite frankly have realistically possibility to do). Sticking to coal a bit longer is a lazy excuse to not take the costs that comes regardless. It's either now, or later when we have to add on even more costs due to environmental damage. Coal is in this regard very short-sighted.

    I'm not very fascinated by the aspect of a potential nuclear meltdown, but when compared to the damages that coal causes regardless, I'd say it's a risk worth taking. Nuclear isn't better than renewable, but I'm not that optimistic that I believe we can switch to renewable sources faster than we can get a bigger portion over to nuclear.

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •