Why Sustainable Energy Use Matters
In 2017, coal-burning power plants generated 31% of the electricity used in the U.S (down from 51% in 2003) and 66% of that used in China. Coal is the dirtiest of all fossil fuels starting with mining that pollutes air and water and severely degrades the land. Coal-burning power and industrial plants are amongst the largest contributors of greenhouse gases with 39% of global emissions coming from the burning of coal. By switching over to renewable energy generation and reducing our energy consumption, the emission of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere will be greatly reduced as will the further destruction of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. The environmental impact of drilling for oil can be catastrophic as seen during the oil spills that too often happen. Refining crude oil releases many toxic chemicals into the air and burning gasoline releases carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. As we move towards a more sustainable energy future, we will require sharply increasing energy efficiency, using many renewable energy sources, and including harmful environmental and health costs in the price of energy.
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