Industrial pollution, especially heavy metal emission from the coal industry has negatively impacting our environment since the Industrial Revolution, and we still cannot see an end to it. Coal industry is one of the biggest sources of industrial pollution, such as the fossil fuel power plant. Increase in industrial pollution emitted into our environment has led to a sudden increase in the accumulation of heavy metals in soil and water all over the world and this has disrupted the biochemical cycles and food webs.
Coal played an important role during the Industrial Revolution. In the Industrial Revolution of the 19th and 20th centuries, it was primarily used to power steam engines, heat buildings and generate electricity. Even now, coal is still playing a vital role in generating electricity worldwide, currently fueling around 37% of global electricity.
Ever since the Industrial Revolution, our environment has continuously been contaminated by the toxic airborne pollutants and heavy metals that were being emitted from the usage of coals. During the Industrial Revolution, the emission of black smoke from burning coal were up to 50 times higher than what is being emitted now. During that time, the industrial cities had darkened skies due to unregulated coal burning, and the air quality was terrible. The ashes of coal blackened buildings and clothing, and the health of people declined. But no one knew about the consequences of burning coal and people depended on it too much for income and wealth, so no one raised any concerns. Right now, we have more knowledge about the numerous negative ways coal impacts on the environment.
Currently, the economic interest of the coal industry is to keep the public ignorant about the negative effects coal has on Earth. People are only thinking about the interest of profiting from coal and are willing to do anything to make sure that their reputation is not damaged in any way. Currently, our society all directly or indirectly benefit from having very low electricity costs. But then if we actually think about it, we would be spending more money on trying to recover from the damages we have caused on our environment than spending money on overall electricity bills or transitioning into using new renewable resources.
So why do we still end up using coal as one of the main sources for producing electricity even when we know the negative effects it has on our environment? Two reasons that comes to mind are because of how coal is the most abundant fossil fuel on Earth, and it is relatively very cheap. Also, coal provides a stable source of energy, unlike oil. There isn’t a lot of economic or political problems regarding coal. Coal has too much of an impact on people’s daily lives. If we do not have electricity, we practically cannot do anything. So, there will be numerous problems if a country cannot provide enough electricity, and that could potentially cause a massive impact on the global economy and that is never ideal.
I believe that for our society to keep continuing to function the way we expect and want it to, we must start putting more effort and resources into transitioning towards finding different electricity sources that can compete with coal in terms of costs. We must put more time into researches, and we all need to come together more in order to find more renewable resources that the society can afford. But that doesn’t mean we can just suddenly cut off coal generated electricity completely. We must have a steady and gradual transition away from it, by increasing electricity production with wind power and solar energy. We must also keep in mind that the rate of environment degradation is increasing much faster than we can do anything to counteract it, thus every single day, we are putting more life on Earth at risk. We must come together and stop being ignorant about our actions towards our environment and find a solution.
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