Julie Borowski don’t understand coal

The stupid is strong with this one… Julie Borowski just uploaded a video on how killing coal is a bad thing. She apparently comes from a long lineage of coal miners, so she gets how important coal is to fight poverty and put food on the table. And in the process, she fails to see the whole picture.

I guess the feedback on that video got a bit heated, as she disabled the comments within a few hours of uploading. She has since re-enabled them, which she deserves a gold star for. That does not however make her argument any more valid.

Here is what I had to say:

Um, coal kills more people annually than nuclear power, and it also exposes the people around the plants to higher levels of radiation than nuclear power. Killing coal is progression, not oppression… It’s great that coal put food on your table, but what about the coal ash, the emissions etc? Try doing some research before spewing garbage like this…

Just like other forms of fossil fuels, coal power is a major contributor to acid rain and global warming. Coal power is however worse than oil and gas as coal ash is loaded with radioactivity from various isotopes such as radium, lead, thorium and uranium. This ash is then collected in leaking ponds polluting groundwater and streams or dumped in landfills.

The number of deaths per kWh of energy produced is about 10 million times larger for coal than for nuclear power, although not exclusively from radiation. This chart tracks all deaths related to the form of power generation.

A commenter on the video said “Julie, I agree with you 90+% of the time, but I do want industry regulated for the good of the environment. […] Though I agree that replacing coal jobs with green energy jobs is bunk. Unless Clinton knows a way to dig up solar cells.” I believe the next chart will give a clear answer to this question: Replacing coal jobs with green energy jobs should not be a problem, considering there were 2000 more green energy sites in 2014 compared to 2004.

The upside to this all is that the number of coal plants in the US is still pretty low compared to hydroelectric and other renewable energy plants. So if we actually succeed in killing off the coal industry, this will likely make room for even more green power plants with new job opportunities. The only depressing part is the decline of nuclear power plants, considering its environmental footprint of nuclear power is minimal.

Speaking of the environmental footprint, the CO2 emissions from brown coal (lignite) and coal cast a shadow on even oil and natural gas. But still, all the fossil fuels are through the roof compared to solar, nuclear and even biofuel.

So, can we all agree now that coal power is a bad idea?