Coal has long been a reliable source of American energy, but it comes with tremendous costs because it is incredibly dirty. The same chemistry that enables coal to produce energy—the breaking down of carbon molecules—also produces a number of profoundly harmful environmental impacts and pollutants that harm public health. Air pollution and global warming are two of the most serious. Coal and air pollution The smoke from coal power plants is exceedingly dangerous to human health.
Air pollution occurs when the air contains gases, dust, smoke from fires, or fumes in harmful amounts. Tiny atmospheric particles - aerosols - are a subset of air pollution that are suspended in our atmosphere.
Aerosol can be both solid and liquid. Most are produced by natural processes such as erupting volcanoes, and some are from human industrial and agricultural activities.
Aerosols have a measurable effect on climate change. Light-colored aerosol particles can reflect incoming energy from the sun in cloud-free air and dark particles can absorb it. Over the historic period, the net effect globally was for aerosols to partially offset the rise in global mean surface temperature.
Aerosols can modify how much energy clouds reflect and they can change atmospheric circulation patterns. This portrait of global aerosols was produced by a GEOS-5 simulation at a kilometer resolution.
Dust red is lifted from the surface, sea salt blue swirls inside cyclones, smoke green rises from fires, and sulfate particles white stream from volcanoes and fossil fuel emissions Image: Some particles, on the other hand, have human origins—industry, agriculture, transport including aviationand construction.
The composition of atmospheric aerosol particles varies widely depending on their source—they may contain salts predominantly sulfatesminerals such as siliconorganic materials, and, in most cases, water. The particles grow by absorbing water vapor and other gases.
These then grow into cloud drops, which eventually fall to the surface as rain or snow, depositing the particles on land or in the ocean. In the stratosphere the atmosphere layer above the tropospherechemical reactions of gases from volcanoes produce sulfate particles that can remain for one or more years, spreading over much of the globe.
The particles can play important climatic roles both outside and inside clouds. In clear air, tiny aerosol particles interact with the solar beam. Sulfate particles in the stratosphere from the Pinatubo volcanic eruption infor example, produced measurable cooling for two years over much of the globe.
In contrast, particles containing substantial amounts of black carbon e. Since black carbon reflects the incoming sunlight, it also acts a shade and the ground surface below becomes cooler.
Black carbon aerosols, similar to the soot in a chimney, absorb sunlight rather than reflecting it. This warms the layer of the atmosphere carrying the black carbon, but also shades and cools the surface below.
Water droplets and ice particles are basically white, so they reflect solar radiation; on the other hand, the condensed water also traps and emits long wave radiation, producing heat. Thus clouds can have either cooling or warming effects on a local area, depending on the altitude of the cloud and whether the reflecting or trapping effect is strongest.
Because of many unknowns relating to aerosol particles, the magnitude of aerosol impacts is one of the major advancements in understanding that occurred between the fourth and fifth IPCC climate assessments.
Particularly noteworthy is the higher confidence regarding aerosol radiation interactions and volcanic aerosols. NASA currently has several aerosol monitoring sites across the worldwhose data are used for better understanding of climate and air quality, and for better pollution management.
How is human-caused air pollution changing our climate?
Human-caused particulate air pollution has a relatively minor—and likely decreasing—impact on our climate. Scientists estimate that particles produced by human activities have led to a net loss of solar energy heat at the ground by as much as 8 percent in densely populated areas over the past few decades.
Human activities that result in production of both reflecting and absorbing aerosol particle have been curtailed by legislation and modern technology in many places.
Regional and temporal aerosols trends indicate shifts in regions of influence for aerosols produced from human activities. Haze clouds seen over urban regions give dramatic proof of the effects of human-induced particles in the United States, while atmospheric soot production from burning fossil fuels for energy production is still very high in many parts of Asia, including large clouds of pollution across much of China.
Dense smog, comprised of various pollutants, settled over the North China Plain on Feb. NASA The primary cause of global warming is too much CO2 Global warming is primarily caused by emissions of too much carbon dioxide CO2 and other heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere when we burn fossil fuels to generate electricity, drive our cars, and power our lives.
These heat-trapping gases spread worldwide and remain in the atmosphere for decades to centuries. Thus, as we continue to emit these gases, their atmospheric concentrations build up over time.Dec 19, · Air pollution from coal-fired power plants is linked with asthma, cancer, heart and lung ailments, neurological problems, acid rain, global warming, and other severe environmental and public health impacts.
Human activities that cause global warming pollution can be best understand by examining the various sources of each type of greenhouse gas. used in refrigeration and air-conditioning systems. Human activities that cause global warming pollution can be best understand by examining the various sources of each type of greenhouse gas.
A: Global warming occurs when carbon dioxide (CO2) and other air pollutants and greenhouse gases collect in the atmosphere and absorb sunlight and solar radiation that have bounced off the earth. Human activities that cause global warming pollution can be best understand by examining the various sources of each type of greenhouse gas. used in refrigeration and air-conditioning systems. In places like India and China, pollution is leading to hundreds of thousands of additional deaths per year. So they have a huge incentive to cut down on their pollution. Yet in cutting pollution, they are simultaneously speeding up global warming? Samset: It’s one of those Catchs. They should certainly clean up their air pollution.
used in refrigeration and air-conditioning systems. Smog hanging over cities is the most familiar and obvious form of air pollution. But there are different kinds of pollution—some visible, some invisible—that contribute to . The effects of air pollution wreck havoc on human health and our planet as a whole.
Learn about what causes air pollution and how to help reduce the effects. Air Pollution: Everything You Need.
These two are the most prevalent types of air pollution. Smog, or “ground-level ozone,” as it is more wonkily called, occurs when emissions from combusting fossil fuels react with sunlight.