Climate Change Life on Land Life in the Water Protecting Wildlife Space
coal energy, coal power plants

Why Using Coal Energy to Make Electricity is Bad for the Planet

July 26, 2021 - Radha Shah

Learn what coal energy is, how it becomes electricity, and why it’s harmful for the planet in the long term. 

You’ve probably learned that one of the ways electricity is made is from hydropower. Around the world, water from rivers is used to spin giant engines, known as turbines that send electricity to homes across cities, suburbs, and villages. 

But did you know that hydropower is only one way people make electricity? Electrical power can also be made using energy from the sun and wind. These are known as renewable energy sources, because they are in infinite supply, meaning they never run out. 

Most of the electrical power on Earth doesn’t come from water, the sun, or wind, though.  It comes from coal. 

Why is Using Coal to Make Electricity Bad for the Planet?

There are three main reasons:

  1. Converting coal into electricity is one of the biggest causes of environmental problems. That’s because to turn coal into electrical energy, first it has to be burned. This releases gases into the Earth’s atmosphere, increasing global warming, and making the air all humans and organisms breath unhealthy.
  2. Coal is a non-renewable source of energy. That means it can run out. Many scientists say if we continue to overuse it, coal will be completely finished by 2060. This is why it’s important to develop alternative sources of power generation.
  3. Mining coal is a dangerous and harmful job. Some coal is found closer to the Earth’s surface, which has to be blown up using dynamite, destroying natural habitats.

Sometimes, miners travel through tunnels deep underground to collect coal, but accidents occur – mines collapse or there are fires – and they don’t make it out alive.

Check This Out Next: What is Nuclear Energy?

If Coal is So bad for the Planet – And For the People and Animals Who Live On It – Why Are We Still Using It?

Low and middle-income countries are often unable to provide their populations with equal access to electricity. This means there are many power outages and most people live without the regular use of lights, refrigeration, television, and much more.  

Low and middle-income countries also don’t have the resources and expertise to build alternative energy sources. Coal is a readily available, cheaper, natural resource, and their governments believe this is the only way to solve power shortages.

Many international companies continue to help poorer countries turn coal into electricity because they can make a lot of money by building factories and selling coal.  

What Do We Need to Do?

The United Nations says that if we want to save the planet, we have to stop making electricity from coal.

In June, global leaders pledged to end coal power production. Now we have to make sure they act on their words.

To save the planet, the whole world needs to cooperate and help all countries develop clean energy solutions.

Featured image by: Flickr