Coal and the Environment
Coal is considered to be the dirtiest fossil fuel as it produces more pollutants during the energy generation process than the other fossil fuels such as natural gas or oil. Pollutants that can be found in the emissions from burning coal will include nitrogen compounds, silicon, aluminium, sulphur and sometimes even trace amounts of radioactive materials like uranium can be found. Due to these high levels are emissions, there can be associated health and environmental problems such as a contribution towards greenhouse gases (leading to global warming), polluted water systems, stripped forests, acid rain and not to mention accidents as part of actually mining the coal.
Coal has been used for producing heat and light for hundreds of years and it is during this time when the world was not aware of the greenhouse gas phenomenon when a lot of damage will have been done to the Earth.
Although coal is still the most widely used fossil fuel, it is at least acknowledged that there must be efforts to clean or contain the use of coal. A number of nations have passed Clean Air laws and have actively taken steps to make mining companies liable to ensure that the landscape is not irreparably damaged by wide scale mining activities.
There are also continuing technological efforts being introduced by industry to burn coal in a more efficient manner that will not emit as many pollutants into the atmosphere. Many of these types of carbon cleaning or carbon capture technologies are still in concept form, but there is at least an awareness that efforts need to be made in this area.