To begin, Paper products are the largest causes of fossil fuels in the world. Almost everything humans use on a daily basis contains some sort of paper product, whether its cereal boxes, parking tickets, toilet paper, shopping bags, store receipts, food containers were all created by timber. The problem is by cutting down the timber to make these everyday products that greenhouse gas emissions are being released in the atmosphere. Also, to make that paper there are toxic chemicals, chlorine compounds, and other toxic ingredients must be mixed and that adds to the greenhouse gas emissions that make a deadly concoction to our planet. Deforestation is the result of the timber industry that is used to create the paper products. (Shapley, 10.2.2007). Coal is the number one producer of electricity.
It is a combustible organic rock that is made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Coal is mined in two different ways which are underground and surface mines. Coal makes a lot of things but the most popular things it makes are electricity, steel, cement, and liquid fuels. It’s the cheapest way to make power but also the dirtiest. It produces more than 80% of all power plant carbon emissions that is very bad to the atmosphere; it causes acid rain, smog, makes drinking water toxic and cancer. (“Coal”, n.d.). Mercury is a silent, deadly poison. It is natural and is found in air, water, rocks and even soil. It becomes dangerous when it goes airborne and that can come from Power plants, volcanoes and many factories.
If it gets into water systems, it can cause death to anyone and anything that drinks it. Mercury is found in insecticides, disinfectants, rubber floors, jewelry, footwear and many things humans come in contact with everyday. Mercury waste gets into water by forms of rain runoff, irrigation systems and so forth which make the water it touches toxic and can cause reduced reproduction, slow growth, lowers cognitive ability and can affect the kidneys, liver, and immune system and death. (“What Is Mercury? “ 2009).
Effects of Paper, Mercury, & Coal on Soil & Water
Pollution is known to be anything put into an environment that is harmful. Mercury is a form of hazardous pollution because it goes in the air then can be spread by acid rains infecting water ways and drinking water. For those that eat the infected aquatic life can get respiratory diseases, birth defects, and even death.
The effects of paper waste are that many wildlife species end up starving to death because the plants they depend on are gone. There are no trees after deforestation to protect the ecosystem so the soil loses its nutrients and can’t sustain the species there. Coal mining is devastating to land and air and water because when coal is burned it puts out carbon dioxide in the air, then the sulfur and mercury end up polluting the water and soil. In order to mine, the trees must be removed which causes many wildlife species to get their homes destroyed then gives them no place to live in. It also creates smog and humans many diseases such as lung cancer. (“Coal: Extraction and Energy Production Impacts on Birds”, 2010).
Effects of Paper, Mercury, & Coal on Environment
As paper builds up into trash, it has the affect of producing a large amount gases which go into the air and water. There are numerous amount of hazardous waste that comes from mercury and into our water supply. This can pose a harmful threat to the human health, our environment and the evolution of our species on Earth. Also, the coal mines and the industrial industry produce an extreme amount of mercury that is released into our atmosphere and which contributes to the carbon dioxide emissions and water pollution.
As for the impact of coal, it has been in combustion for several decades and is one of the foremost contributors of global warming. Emissions from coal-fired power plants are the largest source of mercury in the United States (Praveen, 2003). The biological effect that can come from mercury and coal are that microorganisms consume the particles, which then travel up the food chain, affect the species and the ecosystem. Paper, mercury and coal will continue to affect the biodiversity of the ecosystem and the interactions of species.
Methods for Waste Disposal
Reduce, reuse, recycle are the primary ways to the dispose of waste. Only about 28 percent of paper waste that the average household produces is recycled or composted. Most of the paper ends up in the landfills, or is burned at combustion facilities. Although we may not be recycling as much as we need to, this is the best alternative for paper disposal. There are two ways that mercury can be disposed of safely; encapsulation and recycling. Encapsulation is when the mercury is sealed within a non- degrading material, and then it is placed in a landfill area that may not be disturbed for extensive periods. The recycling process is the most preferable if the facilities are available. This procedure requires the collection of the mercury material, and then it is chemically treated to precipitate out the mercury compounds. Filtration is the key to the collection of the compound and metal recovery, so that the water system is mercury free.
Methods for Waste Management
Waste is a by-product of use. Meaning that everything that is used gives off waste. The solid of coal and the liquid of mercury are no different. The disposal and even use of coal and mercury has been a great debate for many. Coal ash is the by-product of burning to coal. The ash is polluted with a high level of arsenic, lead and mercury, these things are known by authorities to cause many health issues including but not limited to cancer, birth defects, reproductive failures and many other things. Mercury is a solid that is now formed from the Coal ash.
There is no regulations therefore there are millions of pollutants that are just being dumped in landfills, ponds and streams. This practice is killing millions of species and harm millions more, including us humans. As of now, there is no federal regulation or protection or state regulations for that matter to govern the elimination of coal ash. On December 22, 2008, the TVA had a disaster with a coal mine processing plant and this accident caused millions of particles of Coal ash to seep into the groundwater and the air. (“Dumping Toxic Waste”, n.d.).
Explanation of Waste Methods
Since the disaster with the TVA, the EPA has looked into ways to have better ways to dispose of and contain the pollutants that are slowing destroying many areas. One way that we can do this to have a simple liner in the landfills that will contain those pollutants safely and effectively. Another is to have certain areas that can be dumping grounds. Both are relatively inexpensive and would save our environment from any more irreparable damage. (“Dumping Toxic Waste”, n.d.).
Alternative Energy Resources
Coal is used for electric power generation in the United States, accounting for half of the electricity generation nationally. The use for coal to serve as an energy production source has a lot of health concerns, stemming realistically from soil and water contamination from the mining of coal to the toxic air emissions released by coal combustion. Natural gas is a relatively clean source of energy that offers opportunities for numerous regions around the world to reduce their reliance on energy imports.
It can serve as a transition fuel that will allow for the shift from coal to renewable energy. But ultimately wind is the most economical source of electricity. Wind has an overall lower operating cost than both gas and coal. Honestly in the near future if society becomes dependant on natural gas as the premier source of energy, like coal it will began to become very costly as opposed to wind while being very economically friendly despite the rigors of the recession. Tires from cars, motorcycles and or even bicycles can also be used as a supplemental fuel for energy production also.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Alternative Energy Resources
When wind is incorporated, the emissions associated with generating electricity from wind technology are negligible, because no winds are combusted. On the other hand the burning of natural gas produces nitrogen oxides as well as carbon dioxide, but in lower quantities than burning coal and oil. Natural gas doesn’t leave behind the toxins associated with smoke and is composed of methane and produces very low carbon emissions. But on the other hand although natural gas burns clean, it’s also a nonrenewable resource. Most of society prefers natural gas but what we can’t forget is that gas is combustible and explosive and can be extremely dangerous when handled inappropriately. In the event of a fuel leak or etc. from a plant, gas may be disastrous to the environment as it could play a vital role in damaging the environment with pollutants in the soil as well as polluting the water sources for humans as well as animals.
At some point, all the planets natural resources will fade and be left as a money making memory. In a world that making the most money is the focus, the planet will stay at risk of all the pollutions that are and will be created in order to create that wanted money. Today’s society, the safety of the environment is the lowest concern on the totem pole but with the governments working together to ensure laws are created and the word is out to help educate will be the only way the planet can continue to survive.
Anthracite Region Independent Power Producers Association (ARIPPA). (2008). Coal Refuse. Retrieved May 20, 2008 from http://www.arippa.org/coalrefuse.asp.
Coal: Extraction and Energy Production Impacts on Birds. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.abcbirds.org/conservationissues/threats/energyproduction/coal.html
COAL. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.worldcoal.org/coal/ what is Mercury? (2009). Retrieved from http://www.mwsi.com/new/AboutMercury.cfm
Crookham, J. and Dapson, R. Hazardous Chemicals in the Histopathology Laboratory Anatech Ltd, January 2009 http://stainsfile.info/StainsFile/prepare/fix/agents/mercurydispose.htm
Dumping Toxic Waste. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://content.sierraclub.org/coal/disposal-ash-waste
I John P. Miller “US to cut 75 GW of coal-fired capacity by 2030: ICF International,” Platts, October 4, 2010, http://www.platts.com/RSSFeedDetailedNews/RSSFeed/Coal/3032281.
Praveen, Amar, Mercury Emissions from Coal-Fired Power Plants: The Case for Regulatory Action,” Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, October 2003.
Shapley, D. (10.2.2007). 15 Facts about the Paper Industry, Global Warming and the Environment. Retrieved from http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/7447