Submitted by Alisa Bajramovic

Facts About Coal

  • It's a fossil fuel that, when burned, generates electricity
  • Burning coal releases carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, mercury compounds, and nitrogen oxides into the air
  • Over 7500 people in the US die every year due to power plant emissions
  • 1/3 of CO2 emissions come from coal burning

 

Health Risks Associated with Coal

  • Damage to eyes, skin, and respiratory system
  • Damage to kidneys, lungs, and nervous system
  • Neurological function impairment
  • Cardiovascular and pulmonary disease
  • Reproductive, developmental, and cancer outcomes

In 2010, coal emissions alone resulted in $3.7 billion of public health damages

 

Effects of Climate Change in the US

  • Droughts and heat waves
  • Wildfires
  • Tree and plant diseases
  • Sea level rise
  • Biodiversity loss
  • Food-, water-, and animal-borne diseases
  • Extreme weather
  • Reduced air quality

 

How Climate Change Affects Your Home Region (taken from the 2014 National Climate Assessment, found here)

Northeast

  • Heat waves, heavy downpours, and sea level rise
  • Infrastructure, agriculture, fisheries, and ecosystems will be increasingly compromised

Northwest

  • Reduced water supply
  • Sea level rise, erosion, inundation, risks to infrastructure, and increasing ocean acidity
  • Increasing wildfire, insect outbreaks, and tree diseases

Southeast

  • Sea level rise threats the economy and environment
  • Extreme heat affects health, energy, and agriculture
  • Decreased water availability

 Midwest

  • Extreme heat, heavy downpours, and flooding affects infrastructure, health, agriculture, forestry, transportation, air and water quality
  • Great Lakes put at risk

Great Plains

  • Rising temperatures lead to increased water and energy demands
  • Hurt development, strain natural resources, and increase water competition 

Southwest

  • Increased heat, drought, and insect outbreaks
  • Inreased wildfires
  • Decreased water supplies, reduced agricultural yields, flooding, erosion, health impacts in cities due to heat 

Alaska

  • Has warmed twice as fast as the rest of the US
  • Rapidly receding sea ice and shrinking glaciers
  • Thawing permafrost
  • Wildfires
  • Rising ocean temperatures and acidification hurt fisheries 

Hawaii

  • Ocean warming leads to coral bleaching and disease outbreak
  • Limited freshwater supplies
  • Flooding and erosion
  • Threats to food and water security, infrastructure, health, and safety

 

Effects of Climate Change Globally

  • Biodiversity loss
    • By 2100, 20-30% of species will be at high risk of extinction
    • 2/3 of polar bears could die out by 2050
    • Oceans are acidifying faster than they have in the past 65 million years
    • Bleached and destroyed coral reefs
    • Destruction of forests
  • Rising sea levels and thinning ice
    • Arctic sumer may become ice-free by 2050
    • Coastal cities will be lost and islands destroyed
  • More extreme weather
    • 2000-2009 is the hottest decade ever recorded
    • More wildfires will destroy entire regions
    • Increased flooding
    • 75-250 million people living in Africa alone will be exposed to increased water stress
    • More intense and frequent hurricanes
  • Human health threats
    • Very dangerous heat waves
    • Disease spread
    • Air deterioration

 

Resources

  • http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-and-you/affect/coal.html
  • http://www.lung.org/assets/documents/healthy-air/coal-fired-plant-hazards.pdf
  • http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/climate-change/coal/
  • http://www.catf.us/fossil/problems/power_plants/
  • http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/report/regions/hawaii-and-pacific-islands
  • http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/nowhere-run-climate-change-will-affect-every-region-u-s-n98396
  • http://www.edf.org/climate-change-impacts
  • http://climate.nasa.gov/effects/