For our Fuel course, I wrote a research paper talking about the pros and cons of coal. We did this to learn about how pollutants effect the environment. I am very proud of my paper because I worked very hard on it.
My chosen energy is coal and my pollutant is carbon dioxide also known as CO2, and this is directly connected to the carbon footprint. Carbon dioxides forms changes depending on the temperature and pressure of the space it is in. CO2 is most commonly known as a non-flammable gas that can be found in the air or in surface soils. CO2 can also take the form of a solid as dry ice. Coal is made out of carbon, water, hydrogen and oxygen. It also contains many minerals as well. Coal is a great source of energy, but burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide into the air which is harmful to humans. Here are two balanced equations that help explain this:
#1. C + O2 CO2 This equation is showing carbon plus two oxygens combining to make carbon dioxide.
#2. CH4 + 2O2 CO2 + 2H2O. The second equation on the left side is showing the methane combustion process; methane combines with four oxygens. On the right side you see the coal combustion process; carbon dioxide combines with four hydrogens and two oxygens.
The carbon footprint is the CO2 emissions from your home and your transportation. This is directly connected to my pollutant because my pollutant is CO2. My carbon footprint is 19,660 lbs per year and my household carbon footprint is 62,250 lbs per year. To calculate this, you enter information about your household vehicles, home energy, waste production, and recycling. To find the carbon footprint calculator, you can go to EPA Website (EPA, 2013) A tree can absorb up to 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year according to AmTo make up for my carbon footprint of 19,660 lbs per year, I would need to plant about 409 trees a year.
Burning fossil fuels is a good way to insure that we will always have an abundance of energy. As a country 60% of our electricity comes from coal ( FF, 2013). One of the main reasons we burn coal is because it is one of the most inexpensive fuel sources. Also we have practiced and improved the ways to most effectively for years, so the transition to another primary energy source would be difficult.
Just by existing as humans we create CO2, when we burn fossil fuels we are forcing our CO2 levels up. High CO2 can cause health problems: dizziness, elevated blood pressure and headaches. Levels of 1,000 parts per million (ppm) are considered cause for alarm. As this number increases the amount of side effects and severity increases ( WDH, 2012) . I agree that we need to decrease the amount of coal and fossil fuels we burn because it is necessary that we keep our CO2 levels down, to insure that we have healthier air and a healthier population.
In conclusion, I think that even though burning coal is an efficient inexpensive way to create energy, I do not condone high CO2 levels. I think that we should cut down on how much fossil fuels we are burning and find a different primary resource. There are other environmentally friendly ways that we can use to effectively draw energy, without the help of fossil fuels. If we do that then we can reduce our carbon footprint and maintain a healthier population and environment.
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