Matters of Scale - Coal Facts

Matters of Scale Image

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Number of late-model cars it takes to generate 10,000 tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx), the principal constituent of lung-inflaming smog, in one year
500,000
Number of average-sized coal-burning power plants it takes to generate the same amount of NOx
1
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Number of coal-burning electric power plants it took to release 17.5 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), the principal global-warming gas, in the town of Monroe, Michigan in 1 year
1
Number of trees you’d have to cut down or burn to add that amount of CO2 to the atmosphere
761,000,000
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Approximate number of Americans who had died in the aftermath of the Iraq War, with these deaths becoming a major national political issue, as of late 2003
300
Number likely to die each year, according to widely accepted statistical models, as a result of diseases caused by the Monroe, Michigan coal-burning plant—the plant where George Bush chose to give a speech touting his new energy policy giving high priority to building new coal-burning power plants
300
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Population of Cheshire, Ohio, in 2000
2,500
Population of Cheshire in 2003, after a protracted dispute between the citizens and the American Electric Power Co. (AEP) over pollution from the company’s coal-burning plant, which resulted in the company’s decision to just buy the town rather than try to stop the pollution
12
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Number of miners killed in coal mine accidents for every 29 million tons of coal produced in the United States (where more than 51,000 people have died in coal mining accidents in Pennsylvania alone)
1
Number killed in coal-mining accidents in the Ukraine for every 29 million tons produced
203
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Tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2), the principal cause of acid rain, emitted per year by a typical 1,000 Mwe thermal gas or oil power plant
44
Tons of SO2 emitted per year by a coal-burning power plant of equal capacity
30,000
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Sources: Auto emissions and coal burning: Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS); trees and coal burning: UCS and Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker; deaths caused by the Monroe plant emissions: Kolbert; exodus from Cheshire: Robert E. Pierre, The Washington Post; mining deaths: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and Occupational Health Institute of the Ukraine; SO2 emissions: Eric Goldin, Southern California Edison.