A Valuable Resource

Here is an interactive map, courtesy of the World Resources Institute, that gives detailed information to those of us in the U.S. Midwest about where and how our electricity is being generated, and what is the environmental consequence of those actions. Unfortunately, as you will see, much of the Midwest is still getting its electricity from burning coal.

Power Almanac of the American Midwest (map)

Coal is the number one source of anthropogenic carbon-dioxide, as well as being a major source of mercury pollution, acid rain production, and water-contamination in the area where it is being extracted.

Coal is responsible for about 100,000 deaths per year (that's a conservative measurement). By comparison, Chernobyl, a poorly designed nuclear reactor, caused about 4,000 deaths when it exploded. So-called "slow" reactors do create many toxic by-products with a half-life of thousands of years. However, "fast" reactors can have a 90%+ efficiency (as opposed to the 1% efficiency of "slow" reactors), and therefore create much less radioactive waste, and that waste has a half-life of a few-hundred years, as opposed to millennia.

It is time to reconsider nuclear power (at least on a temporary basis), if we are to immediately end the use of coal as a base source of continuous power in the next few years. Coal, if we continue to use it, will most certainly carry us into the dangerous world of extreme climate fluctuation.

(Written by Gavain U'Prichard)

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