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Climate Change Health_Effects_Coal

Published on February 1st, 2010 | by Susan Kraemer

16

Each Ton of CO2 Worth $40 in Health Costs

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February 1st, 2010 by
 

Using coal for electricity produces CO2, and climate policy aims to prevent greenhouse gases from hurting our habitat. But it also produces SOx and NOx and particulate matter that have immediate health dangers.

A University of Wisconsin study was able to put an economic value on just the immediate health benefits of enacting climate policy.  Implications of incorporating air-quality co-benefits into climate change policymaking found coal is really costing us about $40 per each ton of CO2.

In climate policy discourse, the cost/benefit analysis of the health benefits has not till now been a consideration, but there are air quality co-benefits of climate policy.

The Wisconsin summary of the 37 studies that have put a dollar value on the health benefits of climate policy was just published in the peer reviewed journal Environmental Research Letters.

For the 22 studies that accounted for developed nations alone, the value of air quality co-benefits per avoided ton of CO2 would average around $40 per ton, they found. The mean was $31, the median was $44, and the full range was from $2 – $192.

Including the much more immediate health costs might make climate change policy more attainable. The co-benefits are more local, nearer term, and health related, and have the potential to engage even those who are averse to the costs of climate policy or unmotivated by avoided climatic damages.

Health still has genuinely bipartisan support in the US, says Bush polling expert Frank Luntz, who should know. He recently advised environmentalists to bring up “health” as the benefit of transitioning from fossil energy.

Having a livable planet to enjoy that health on, however, shares no such bipartisan support. Sophisticated devaluation of climate science in US media outlets on the right has led to an alternate reality being developed for consumers of conservative media. The attack by the fossil energy industry has succeeded.

Until now the scientists who study health have been immune from this attack. But too many studies like this one, and that might change. In a few decades, I’m predicting, your grandchildrens’ health, too, will be just another Bolshevik plot, as is their right to a livable climate.

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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today, PV-Insider , SmartGridUpdate, and GreenProphet. She has also been published at Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.



  • http://www.ison21.es sunshine

    The link is broken :(

  • http://www.ison21.es sunshine

    The link is broken :(

  • Larry Siegel

    Black Soot

    The atmospheric warming effect of black carbon pollution (produced by burning wood, coal, cow dung and diesel fuel), is as much as three to four times the consensus estimate released in a 2007 report by the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    The findings are of concern to areas such as the Indian subcontinent, where retreating glaciers in the Himalayas have the potential to flood densely populated areas and affect the drinking water of billions of people.

    Unlike carbon dioxide, which traps solar energy radiating back from Earth’s surface, black carbon particles absorb solar radiation as it enters Earth’s atmosphere, increasing its heat. In addition, when they precipitate onto snowy areas, they increase heat absorption that leads to glacial melting.

    Global Warming Impacts Felt on Every Continent

    A 2007 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concludes that “hundreds of millions of people in developing nations will face natural disasters, water shortages and hunger” due to climate change. The report warned that global warming’s effects are already being felt “on every continent, and sooner than expected.”

    Climate Change Killing 300,000 Per Year

    CNN

    LONDON (May 29) — The first comprehensive report into the human cost of climate change warns the world is in the throes of a “silent crisis” that is killing 300,000 people each year.

    More than 300 million people are already seriously affected by the gradual warming of the earth and that number is set to double by 2030, the report from the Global Humanitarian Forum warns.

    “For the first time we are trying to get the world’s attention to the fact that climate change is not something waiting to happen. It is impacting seriously the lives of many people around the world,” the forum’s president, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, told CNN.

    The Human/Environmental Costs of Our Automobile Addiction

    In one year, it is estimated that 1.2 million people are killed in auto-related accidents around the globe. That equates to slightly more than 3,200 traffic deaths EVERY DAY.

    Perhaps it is time to re-invent our global methods of human transportation.

    Air Pollution

    Worldwide, the extraction and combustion of coal have severe health and environmental impacts. The pollution emitted by coal-burning power plants and factories affects the health of millions of people. A recent World Bank study identified coal combustion as China’s largest source of outdoor air pollution, to which it attributed 350,000–400,000 premature deaths a year. While these numbers were censored by Chinese authorities, at other times officials have acknowledged that coal power plants often do not comply with environmental regulations.

    Pollution Does Not Stop at the Border

    Wind-borne pollution from China and neighboring countries is spreading to the United States and Canada as a result of surging economic activity and destructive farming practices half a world away.

    Recent research shows that a mix of pollutants, from dust to ozone to toxic chemicals, travels farther than once realized.

    In one severe dust storm in spring 1998, particle pollution levels in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia soared. In Seattle, air quality officials could not identify a local source of the pollution, but measurements showed that 75 percent of the pollution came from China.

    The amount of pollution reaching North America from Asia does not equal that produced by the United States. But the impact of foreign-born pollution is becoming more widely visible.

    Wind storms rake the Gobai and Taklimakan deserts, whipping towering clouds of dust miles into the air where high-speed wind currents whisk them along at up to 1,500 miles per day.

    Numerous studies have linked microscopic airborne particles with a host of health problems, including heart attacks, respiratory failure, asthma and premature death. The smallest particles are too tiny to be filtered by the body and penetrate deep into the lungs.

    Mixed with all the dust is another menace: Toxic and industrial pollutants from farms, factories and power plants. China’s economy is largely powered by burning coal. Power plants and factories emit roughly 40 million tons per year of sulfur oxides, most in the world and double the U.S. emissions of that pollutant.

    The pollution we are breathing isn’t just dust. It is dust and whatever else has been deposited on it, like hundreds of compounds from man-made pollution.

    About one-third of the mercury, a toxic metal, released in the United States is coming from fossil fuel burning in Asia.

    Deaths and Illness in the U.S. due to Smog and Pollution

    The number of U.S. deaths each year attributable to vehicle smog is between 50,000 and 100,000 along with six million asthma attacks, 159,000 emergency room visits and 53,000 other hospitalizations attributed to pollution from petroleum products and tailpipe emissions. Worse yet, childhood cancer and leukemia rates are highest in the highest density traffic corridors and people over 65 are at a health impact risk 10 times that of those aged 45 to 64.

    Emissions from Coal-Fired Plants

    The scale of pollution from these coal-fired smokestacks is immense, so is the damage to public health. Data supplied to the Senate Environment Committee by EPA in 2001 estimates the annual health bill from 7 million tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2): more than 10,800 premature deaths; at least 5,400 incidents of chronic bronchitis; more than 5,100 hospital emergency visits; and over 1.5 million lost work days. Add to that severe damage to our natural resources, as acid rain attacks soils and plants and deposits nitrogen in the Chesapeake Bay and other critical bodies of water.

  • Larry Siegel

    Black Soot

    The atmospheric warming effect of black carbon pollution (produced by burning wood, coal, cow dung and diesel fuel), is as much as three to four times the consensus estimate released in a 2007 report by the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    The findings are of concern to areas such as the Indian subcontinent, where retreating glaciers in the Himalayas have the potential to flood densely populated areas and affect the drinking water of billions of people.

    Unlike carbon dioxide, which traps solar energy radiating back from Earth’s surface, black carbon particles absorb solar radiation as it enters Earth’s atmosphere, increasing its heat. In addition, when they precipitate onto snowy areas, they increase heat absorption that leads to glacial melting.

    Global Warming Impacts Felt on Every Continent

    A 2007 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concludes that “hundreds of millions of people in developing nations will face natural disasters, water shortages and hunger” due to climate change. The report warned that global warming’s effects are already being felt “on every continent, and sooner than expected.”

    Climate Change Killing 300,000 Per Year

    CNN

    LONDON (May 29) — The first comprehensive report into the human cost of climate change warns the world is in the throes of a “silent crisis” that is killing 300,000 people each year.

    More than 300 million people are already seriously affected by the gradual warming of the earth and that number is set to double by 2030, the report from the Global Humanitarian Forum warns.

    “For the first time we are trying to get the world’s attention to the fact that climate change is not something waiting to happen. It is impacting seriously the lives of many people around the world,” the forum’s president, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, told CNN.

    The Human/Environmental Costs of Our Automobile Addiction

    In one year, it is estimated that 1.2 million people are killed in auto-related accidents around the globe. That equates to slightly more than 3,200 traffic deaths EVERY DAY.

    Perhaps it is time to re-invent our global methods of human transportation.

    Air Pollution

    Worldwide, the extraction and combustion of coal have severe health and environmental impacts. The pollution emitted by coal-burning power plants and factories affects the health of millions of people. A recent World Bank study identified coal combustion as China’s largest source of outdoor air pollution, to which it attributed 350,000–400,000 premature deaths a year. While these numbers were censored by Chinese authorities, at other times officials have acknowledged that coal power plants often do not comply with environmental regulations.

    Pollution Does Not Stop at the Border

    Wind-borne pollution from China and neighboring countries is spreading to the United States and Canada as a result of surging economic activity and destructive farming practices half a world away.

    Recent research shows that a mix of pollutants, from dust to ozone to toxic chemicals, travels farther than once realized.

    In one severe dust storm in spring 1998, particle pollution levels in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia soared. In Seattle, air quality officials could not identify a local source of the pollution, but measurements showed that 75 percent of the pollution came from China.

    The amount of pollution reaching North America from Asia does not equal that produced by the United States. But the impact of foreign-born pollution is becoming more widely visible.

    Wind storms rake the Gobai and Taklimakan deserts, whipping towering clouds of dust miles into the air where high-speed wind currents whisk them along at up to 1,500 miles per day.

    Numerous studies have linked microscopic airborne particles with a host of health problems, including heart attacks, respiratory failure, asthma and premature death. The smallest particles are too tiny to be filtered by the body and penetrate deep into the lungs.

    Mixed with all the dust is another menace: Toxic and industrial pollutants from farms, factories and power plants. China’s economy is largely powered by burning coal. Power plants and factories emit roughly 40 million tons per year of sulfur oxides, most in the world and double the U.S. emissions of that pollutant.

    The pollution we are breathing isn’t just dust. It is dust and whatever else has been deposited on it, like hundreds of compounds from man-made pollution.

    About one-third of the mercury, a toxic metal, released in the United States is coming from fossil fuel burning in Asia.

    Deaths and Illness in the U.S. due to Smog and Pollution

    The number of U.S. deaths each year attributable to vehicle smog is between 50,000 and 100,000 along with six million asthma attacks, 159,000 emergency room visits and 53,000 other hospitalizations attributed to pollution from petroleum products and tailpipe emissions. Worse yet, childhood cancer and leukemia rates are highest in the highest density traffic corridors and people over 65 are at a health impact risk 10 times that of those aged 45 to 64.

    Emissions from Coal-Fired Plants

    The scale of pollution from these coal-fired smokestacks is immense, so is the damage to public health. Data supplied to the Senate Environment Committee by EPA in 2001 estimates the annual health bill from 7 million tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2): more than 10,800 premature deaths; at least 5,400 incidents of chronic bronchitis; more than 5,100 hospital emergency visits; and over 1.5 million lost work days. Add to that severe damage to our natural resources, as acid rain attacks soils and plants and deposits nitrogen in the Chesapeake Bay and other critical bodies of water.

  • http://knobs@roadrunner.com Thomas May

    Nuclear energy cost 100′s of times more than coal plants. That doesn’t even account for spent fuel costs. With all that money, we could turn the coal emissions to gold with some ingenuity. A little extra co2 doesn’t harm our environment, it’s a natural reaction to the destruction of oxygen producing plants, like those found in the disappearing rain forests. Why can’t we protect them, like the little fish causing the draught in So, Cal?

  • james shore

    Really great site that you have built good info thanks.

  • james shore

    Really great site that you have built good info thanks.

  • Dave B

    libra58 – WHEN you breathe out 25,000 pounds of co2 a year like the 14,000 US stationary sources that each emit 25,000 tons or more a year of greenhouse gases (all coal power stations and a few cement companies) then your breathing out co2 will be a problem.

    Till then, don’t bother your little head:

    “The agency estimates that about 11,000 of the affected sources already participate in the Clean Air Act’s Title V air operating permit program, but about 3,000 facilities will be new to the program.”

    http://www.martenlaw.com/news/?20091007-stationary-source-ghg-emissions

  • Dave B

    libra58 – WHEN you breathe out 25,000 pounds of co2 a year like the 14,000 US stationary sources that each emit 25,000 tons or more a year of greenhouse gases (all coal power stations and a few cement companies) then your breathing out co2 will be a problem.

    Till then, don’t bother your little head:

    “The agency estimates that about 11,000 of the affected sources already participate in the Clean Air Act’s Title V air operating permit program, but about 3,000 facilities will be new to the program.”

    http://www.martenlaw.com/news/?20091007-stationary-source-ghg-emissions

  • libra58

    This is so revealing!! All this time I have been under

    the illusion that the CO2 coming from burning coal is

    the same CO2 as that coming from breathing, plant decay and from burning natural gas.

    Seriously folks if you bought this one it is time for some serious study on the subject. I do agree with the problems regarding the mining, heavy metals, ash etc. but implying that CO2 coming from burning coal is somehow different than any other CO2… well that is simply a lie.

  • Ben

    That’s great to get these metrics. So approx. 40$ per ton of air quality problems. How much do all the other coal problems cost?

    Water quality from mountain top coal removal (cost of cleaning drinking water, dead fish, etc).

    Mercury being absorbed by the fish we eat.

    Coal ash problems?

    Could you write an article covering that too? I’d be interested to know.

  • Ben

    That’s great to get these metrics. So approx. 40$ per ton of air quality problems. How much do all the other coal problems cost?

    Water quality from mountain top coal removal (cost of cleaning drinking water, dead fish, etc).

    Mercury being absorbed by the fish we eat.

    Coal ash problems?

    Could you write an article covering that too? I’d be interested to know.

  • http://www.fundybuzz.com Williams

    Wow, cool Piece. Thanks for Sharing with us.

  • http://www.fundybuzz.com Williams

    Wow, cool Piece. Thanks for Sharing with us.

  • Zach

    excellent piece, Susan!

  • Zach

    excellent piece, Susan!

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