For many years I’ve grown frustrated and angry watching the wanton environmental destruction of the planet. But now I’ve taken a strong, simple action to fight back.
At the top of the list of culprits to blame for environmental devastation: coal-burning power plants. Sure, we need the electricity. And coal is cheap – but only if you deliberately choose to ignore the societal costs of creating the clouds of pollution that coal spews into the atmosphere. And the environmental costs of stripping the tops off of mountains to get at the coal underneath.
Coal now accounts for 45% of the power generation in the US. That’s enough to make coal-burning plants the largest point source of pollution in the country, spilling out 40% of the total of all hazardous chemicals released into the atmosphere from all causes.
Some of the major ways that coal pollution kills you
Some of the major ways that coal pollution kills you are through asthma, heart disease, lung and kidney problems. In fact, in an article in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences it’s been estimated that the air pollution from burning coal — apart from its other negative consequences — costs the public in excess of $187 billion.
Coal-fired plants are the largest source of arsenic, hydrochloric acid, mercury, and other toxic chemicals that pollute your lungs, irritate your eyes, and poison your brain.
Even if you don’t live down-wind from a coal-fueled power plant, there’s no escape. These toxic chemicals end up in the food you eat too. There’s not too much an individual, acting on his or her own, can do to avoid the exposure.
The health effects of burning coal are devastating enough. But the problems with coal don’t stop there – ecosystems are destroyed, greenhouse gases heat the planet, and radioactive coal ash flies into the atmosphere – carrying a more lethal radioactive punch than a nuclear power plant.
The distinguished Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman has pointed out that the societal costs of the pollution from coal burning outweigh the value of the power that the coal produces. In other words, every coal-fired power plant in the United States is burning dollar bills by the billions. In the process of burning the dollar bills, a million here or there winds up in the hands of the wealthy few who own the plant. But the rest of us end up paying the huge costs.
We’ve got to put a stop to this insanity.
Fortunately, renewable energy sources are no longer a dream for the future. Wind power has emerged as a viable choice right now, today. The technology already exists to build the wind towers (and the storage systems and transmission lines) to generate all the electricity our country needs from safe, affordable, domestic wind. And there’s a power company – North American Power — committed to switching America to generating 100% of its electricity from wind.
In many states, including New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, and Illinois, you can switch your electric service to North American Power today.
You might end up paying a slight premium (ten percent or so at the most) to purchase this clean power instead of the dirty stuff. Depending on your market, your electricity bill may not even go up that much (and it might even go down). Regardless of the details, the small premium you’ll be paying is well, well worth it.
Right now, only a few per cent of Americans opt to purchase clean, renewable power. As a result, utilities have little incentive to invest in new wind power sources. If 10%, 20%, or even 30% or more choose clean power, it would be a national game-changer.
We can’t wait any longer to make the shift to clean sources of electricity.