Climate Change isn’t the whole problem
So much of the discussion around clean energy currently focuses on climate change and pricing, but we shouldn’t forget another important reason to “go green” – pollution. Fossil fuels and nuclear produce dangerous pollutants which have a direct impact on our health and the sustainability of our planet.
- Coal use is declining, but we still get almost 30% of the country’s power from it.
- Coal extraction uses harmful techniques such as mountaintop removal and strip mining, which pollutes water sources and damages ecosystems.
- Underground coal mines pose threats to safety from collapse and methane leaks.
- Burning coal releases heavy metals such as mercury, as well as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulates
- These pollutants are linked to respiratory illness, neurological damage, smog and acid rain.
- Natural gas burns cleaner and more efficiently than coal, but it still emits pollutants and accounts for about 32% of our energy.
- The extraction of natural gas can be problematic.
- Laying pipelines to transport natural gas requires clearing land, and when the pipelines leak they release methane, a strong greenhouse gas.
- Hydrogren sulfide is burned off, or “flared,” when extracting natural gas, which releases varying pollutants
- Hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as fracking, uses a fluid that contains unknown chemicals – only 28 states require the disclosure of some of the chemicals in fracking fluid. This fluid can leak and pollute water supplies.
- Fracking has also resulted in earthquakes at wastewater injection sites.
- Some says nuclear energy could help with climate change, but we should not take the potential health risks lightly.
- Used nuclear fuel emits dangerous levels of radiation long after it’s used and there is currently no long-term solution on where and how to store this waste.
- Nuclear meltdowns may be relatively infrequent or unlikely, but when they happen they’re disastrous.
- Incidents like Fukushima and Chernobyl have a high human cost, and render cities uninhabitable for the foreseeable future.
Solar is a Solution
- The guaranteed lifespan of solar panels is twenty to twenty-five years, which is much better than many consumer electronics such as cell phones or laptops, and in many cases they can be recycled.
- Using the sun for energy doesn’t emit water, air, or carbon pollution.
You can help Fight Climate Change by joining a Community Solar Farm.