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Joshua Lin

Mayeena Ulkarim
Alan Montes
Period 3, APES
16/05-2016
1. WHAT ARE THE MAIN ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF BURNING COAL?
First, burning coal results in the emission of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide.
Meanwhile, it can also result in the production of sulfur dioxide, which can cause
industrial smog as well as acid deposition. As seen in the Last Mountain documentary,
refining coal results in hazardous waste, such as heavy metals, which companies
dispose in bodies of water, contaminating water supply.
2. DESCRIBE THE GENERAL TREND WE ARE SEEING IN THE COAL INDUSTRY:
Currently, the amount of electricity generated from coal has dropped to 33 percent
today from 50 percent in 2007. This is due to the fact that the market for coal is
shrinking. Moodys Investors Service stated that the industrys gross earnings fell by
25 percent in 2015 and will likely drop by another 10 percent this year. The market
may face further losses due to the Obama administrations Clean Power Plan which
calls for new emissions regulations.
3. DESCRIBE FOUR FACTORS THAT ARE PRIMARILY RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS
TREND:
1) Public support for clean: And a decade of sustained public advocacy for clean
air and clean energy has changed the rules of the game. An industry cannot
form and maintain itself without the financial support of its customer base, and
if the industry alienates its base, then naturally the industry will suffer for it. As
the long term results of fossil fuels become more and more apparent, people
who have the capacity to see into the long term are starting to make the move
away from the coal industry. As they lose financial support, the industry will
naturally begin to weaken, thus contributing to the decline of the coal industry.
2) Regulations hinder profits: Stringent new regulations that require power
plants to stop endangering public health impose substantial new costs on an
industry that has had a free ride for many years. Furthermore, as the long term
results of fossil fuels are becoming increasingly apparent, governments have
implemented various policies and standards which limit the actions of the
industries which burn them. These policies lead to the fining of the industries,
lowering the profit margin by a noticeable amount.
3) The rise of clean energy, such as wind and solar. The first point mentioned, that
of a transition of public support, would not be taking place if there were no
alternatives. Fortunately for our children, the alternatives are coming on
strong, and with that, so changes the minds and hearts of the people. Without
these alternative sources of energy, public support for coal would remain
unwavering. This shift in public support will then affect how many customers
there are to be had, and as support falls, so does the profit margin.
4) A Major factor in coals ongoing collapse has been the development of new
technologies like horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, which have made
it easier and cheaper to get natural gas out of the ground. With the rise of a
rival business, that of fracking, the previous points are combined to some
degree in a synergistic style. The public is provided another source for energy,
and as they move towards that alternative source of energy, the coal
companys profits dwindle.

4. IF WE REDUCE COAL USEWE WILL STILL NEED TO GET ENERGY FROM


SOMEWHERE. WHAT OTHER ENERGY OPTIONS DO WE HAVE?
Technological advantages have made natural gas, wind, and solar --and efficiency--
increasingly competitive. Alternative sources of energy , as provided by the article in
the quote above, include renewables and natural gas (which is a transition fuel in of
itself). The renewable category of energy is rather broad itself, specific examples of
renewables would include recent solar powered energy (photovoltaics, Tower of
Power, etc.), indirect recent solar (wind turbines and to some extent ocean wave
energy, though thats a combination of wind and moon), and biomass, to some limited
extent (theres also geothermal but not -technically- renewable). Furthermore, the
existence of transition fuels, such as natural gases help developed countries ease
their way into a more cyclical manner of living.
5. IF COAL IS SO ENVIRONMENTALLY DESTRUCTIVE, THEN WHY IS THERE SUCH
RESISTANCE TO GOVERNMENT PLANS TO SHIFT MORE TOWARDS RENEWABLES?
The coal industry has been battered by market forces. Due to economic forces
efforts to switch to renewables are avoided. Often regulations that serve to help
protect the public and the environment acquire more money from the industry,
money the industry does not want to spend in order to make a bigger profit. With the
huge profit they are able to buy of politicians by removing inconvenient judges, and
micromanage dozens of coal mines to extract coal. This results in political corruption
and big Ceos of coal power plants having the upper hand. Their primary goal is to
extract the most money out of coal while spending the barest minimum possible. It is
basically outweighing the costs and benefits of it all. This leads to no care for worker
safety, taking out unneeded hindrances such as politicians, and taking the upper hand.
The government is able to resist changes to renewable sources due to corruption and
micromanagement.
6. WILL THE WORLD STILL BE USING COAL IN 100 YEARS? WILL DEVELOPED
COUNTRIES SUCH AS THE US AND EUROPE?
In the US, there has been a move to start shutting down coal plants. According to the
article In the Dumps, it is unlikely that another coal-fired electric power plant will
be built in the United States. Since 2010, 232 US coal plants have been shuttered or
scheduled for retirementone-third of the US fleet. Grassroots activism stopped
another 184 plants from being built. By 2030, about 50,000 megawatts of electricity
will no longer be generated by 2030 according to the Sierra Clubs Beyond Coal
campaign. Meanwhile, the 2015 UN conference on climate change in Paris has inspired
rapid worldwide change regarding coal in order to keep global temperatures from
rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. Because of this, China has been reducing its
coal use since 2013, in part because the air in its larger cities is at times unsafe to
breathe. China imported 1.7 million tons of US coal in 2014 but only 229,000 tons in
2015, a reduction of 86.5 percent. Based on these observations, many countries will
probably no longer use coal in 100 years. However, in many developing countries,
there is still a reliance on coal, such as those in Africa and South Asia.