This is a thesis proposal I wrote for my communications class, I thought I would share it. I proposed the idea of safer and cleaner energy.
Mercury can cause severe nervous system problems in humans and wildlife, and it is only one of the few deadly chemicals released by coal-fired power plants. Currently, in the United States there are over six hundred coal-fired power plants, and they provide over fifty percent of our electricity nationwide. The United States should use an alternative source of energy for their coal power plants, with a free and clean energy source, such as, solar or wind energy. One of the major reasons to terminate coal-fired power plants is it’s negative impact on human life. In addition, the cost of coal and the cost of building coal fired-power plants are already steadily increasing. Finally, coal is a limited resource and can’t be relied on for the future.
To begin with, toxins released into the air through coal-fired power plants have a negative impact on human health. Asthma attacks, cardiac problems, respiratory problems, and premature deaths are a result from fine particles released into the air by coal-fired power plants. John Balbus, the chief health scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund states “we estimate that between roughly 6000 and 10,700 annual deaths from heart ailments, respiratory disease and lung cancer can be attributed to the 88 coal-fired power plants and companies receiving public international financing”(Balbus). Studies have shown that “people dying prematurely from problems associated with exposure to fine particle pollution lost an average of fourteen years, and pollution from burning coal is responsible for 38,200 nonfatal heart attacks and 554,000 asthma attacks each year. Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida had the highest overall mortality rates each year, and West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee, states with a large number of coal-fired plants, had the highest mortality risk“(Schneider). Fly ash emitted by coal-fired power plants carries one hundred times more radiation than a nuclear power plant producing the same amount of energy. Mercury, selenium, lead, and coal ash are byproducts of these power plants’ that cause air and water pollution. Coal fired power plants are the biggest source of mercury pollution. “A survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in early 2003 found that one in twelve (eight percent) American women of childbearing age had mercury in their blood above the levels considered safe by the Environmental Protection Agency”(Northeast 5). Mercury levels that high can cause neurological damage in newborns, and adverse cardiovascular effects in adults. The effects of mercury from coal-fired power plants has an impact in the fish we consume, NESCAUM (Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management) states that “the release of mercury to the environment contaminates fresh and saltwater fisheries to such an extent that forty-five states and one U.S. territory have issued advisories warning of the dangers of eating fish with elevated concentrations of mercury“. Aside from the adverse effects on human health, the cost of coal and the cost of building coal fired-power plants are already steadily increasing.