Coal mining provides us with an essential fossil fuel that is used for heat and electricity creation. It keeps us warm, lets us power up smartphones, and has made the world more accessible. In return, burning coal may have also contributed to climate changes that are being experienced today. With more than 400 years of coal in reserve, the US has excelled at coal mining. Should it continue? Here are the pros and cons of coal mining to consider.
The Pros of Coal Mining
1. It is inexpensive to mine coal.
In order for an economy to grow, it needs to have a source of power that is affordable to access. This allows a majority of the population to access this benefit. Coal is one of the cheapest materials to mine anywhere in the world and there are many large deposits that have yet to be touched.
2. Coal stores safely.
Unlike other fuel sources, coal stores very safely and in large quantities. It lasts indefinitely after being mined, so there isn’t the need to consume the fuel immediately. This also makes it safe to transport over long distances so everyone can benefit from its power potential.
3. It creates jobs.
Coal mining creates an economic infrastructure for an entire community. From the miners who bring the coal out to those who transport the coal and the administration jobs that support both aspects and everything in-between, thousands of jobs exist because of coal mining.
The Cons of Coal Mining
1. Coal is one of the dirtiest fuels that we use today.
The amount of carbon that comes from burning coal is at least 2x greater than any other electrical generation source. Although it is cheap as a fuel, the adage that you’ll get what you pay for definitely applies here. Other energy sources are more expensive, but less harmful to the environment.
2. Coal exposure can be dangerous to human health.
Breathing in coal dust is bad news for the lungs. People who work in coal mines or are constantly exposed to this substance as a fuel are at an increased risk to suffer from several lung diseases. Black lung disease kills 25,000 people every year.
3. One day there won’t be any coal left to use.
Although there are centuries of coal reserves that have already been mined, there will come a day when this fossil fuel won’t be available. That may seem far off in the distance today, but it has taken about 200 years for coal technologies to develop into what they are today. If we are to find an alternative fueling source that is just as effective and cheap as coal, we need to start today.
The pros and cons of coal mining may offer an economic benefit, but at a disadvantage to the environment. We are still going to use coal to heat our homes and have access to power, but if we can limit how much coal is needed, we could have a huge impact on the world for future generations.
Crystal Lombardo is a contributing editor for Vision Launch. Crystal is a seasoned writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience. She has been an editor of three popular blogs that each have had over 500,000 monthly readers.