I have had requests from educators for the background information and sources of my deaths per twh by energy source articles. Here us a compilation of links to references and to other related articles that I have written.
The air pollution numbers do not change much because there has not been significant improvement measures in that time. Any gains that China has made with shutting dirty small plants offset with 50-100% more coal usage. Plus it takes time for the air to improve after measures are taken. Accidents have fluctuated but it is not easy to get the latest numbers of deaths and there is not much impact on the cumulative deaths / cumulative TWh generated.
Particulate matter components associated with daily mortality and morbidity in urban populations.
As air pollution is worse on some days, this study shows it means more hospitalizations on that day. I find this particularly powerful that you can see the variation and linkage by the day between air pollution and health.
There have also been many massive multi-city studies of the effects of air pollution.
The study is one of the largest of its kind, involving more than 65,000 Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study participants, age 50 to 79, living in 36 cities across the United States.
Stories that communicate suffering behind the numbers
Pictures and stories of fossil fuel deaths. People read the total numbers about the tragedies but cannot see past the numbers to the suffering,so there is a need to focus in on stories of specific events so that there is awareness that there was actual suffering.
The Great Smog of 1952 darkened the streets of London and killed approximately 4,000 people in the short time of 4 days (a further 8,000 died from its effects in the following weeks and months).
Everyone in London walked blind for the next four days
By Sunday, Dec. 7, visibility fell to one foot. Roads were littered with abandoned cars. Cattle in the city’s Smithfield market were killed and thrown away before they could be slaughtered and sold — their lungs were black. On the second day of the smog, Saturday, Dec. 6, 500 people died in London. When the ambulances stopped running, thousands of gasping Londoners walked through the smog to the city’s hospitals. The lips of the dying were blue. Heavy smoking and chronic exposure to pollution had already weakened the lungs of those who fell ill during the smog. Particulates and acids in the killer brew finished the job by triggering massive inflammations. In essence, the dead had suffocated.
Maureen Scholes, a nurse at the Royal London Hospital in 1952, says the smog penetrated through clothes, blackening undergarments
The Buffalo Creek Flood (Feb, 1972): 125 dead, 1121 injured and 4000 homeless.
The 15- to 20-foot black wave of water gushed at an average of 7 feet per second and destroyed one town after another. A resident of Amherstdale commented that before the water reached her town, “There was such a cold stillness. There was no words, no dogs, no nothing. It felt like you could reach out and slice the stillness.” — quote from Everything in Its Path, by Kai T. Erikson
China coal mine story. The tale of two chinese coal miners who lived. Remember these are the two who lived while 179 others died We also recently had the 12 coal mining deaths in the United States. The two who lived had to drink their own urine, eat coal and dig through 66 feet of dirt and coal.
Chilean miners story of coal miners trapped for 69 days and surviving. There are other cases where miners are trapped for a long time and end up not surviving. Those miners still suffered being trapped but then die.
Coal, Uranium and Iron Mining and Oil Extraction
I used news reports and academic studies for China’s coal fatalities from mining accidents.
Uranium mining deaths were mainly for uranium mined for nuclear bombs. Uranium mining was corrected by the time commercial reactors were going in the 1970s.
Hydro dam deaths. Examples of cases of hydro dam accidents show that the numbers are right and illustrate actual historical events.
A sample of oil and gas accidents that caused deaths. Examples of cases of oil and gas accidents show that the numbers are right and illustrate actual historical events.
Other studies confirm the general level of these numbers
Coal waste impacts. Actual deaths worse than the numbers I used for deaths per TWH. I did not fully include indoor air pollution and did not include deaths beyond particulates because the causality is not as solid.
Another complaint is about the fact that there are predictions that many more will die from Chernobyl. The credible studies indicate that people have not died yet. A future death anticipation is another comparison. Where we look at lifetime energy risks by source and total expected deaths.
With air pollution we are looking at a range from 80 years * 2 million (with 14 year avg life reduction) or 1 billion lives shortened (World health estimate of 2 year life expectancy reduction. then spread the 14 year avg life reduction by 1/7th to get 2 year. So that would mean about 1 billion lives shortened by 2 years or more.
Could have a cutoff of 2 years of life shortening, which equates to being 15% overweight. Unless people want to play the maximum Chernobyl numbers and then any statistical shortening by days then has the same issue for pilots and stewardesses who lose about 30-60 days.
Powerpoint presentation from Berkeley University on rural fuel use in China 35% is from coal, 33% crop waste and 21% wood. This relates to indoor air pollution, which has a higher level of deaths than outdoor air pollution. In the year 2004, indoor air pollution from solid fuel use was responsible for almost 2 million deaths (3% of all deaths) and 2.7% of the global burden of disease (World Health Organization)
Indoor Air pollution problem of the developing world. I did not fully use these numbers which cause 1.9 million deaths per year and are coal and biomass.
Coal and biomass deaths per TWH would skyrocket if the indoor air pollution effects were included because so little power is made and so many deaths are produced.
Luong Van Inh is among a neglected group of Asians threatened by an environmental hazard rarely considered: indoor air pollution. Caused by burning wood, coal or other cheap fuels in kitchens, it kills about 1.5 million people worldwide each year.
Lowering deaths from Energy
I had suggestions for lowering the deaths per TWH. Air pollution mitigation systems on coal, natural gas and industrial plants would be very affordable. Air pollution mitigation on cars and trucks is also possible using existing technology.
Using Euro six emission standards for cars and trucks would save over 200,000 lives each year.
Understanding the Scale of Coal
Coal mining – the world uses 7 billion tons of coal each year. The world uses less than 70,000 tons of uranium each year. 100,000 times less.
120-car unit trains, each carrying 12000 tons of coal per trip. So 600 car train would hold all of the worlds annual uranium.
Over 1000 tons of explosives per day for surface mining of coal. When the ground, rock and trees are blown up then there are 1600 holding lakes for the ponds of sludge. a few square miles for each one. Buffalo Creek (1972) was a case where one of the sludge holding dams broke and killed 125 people and injured 1121 and destroyed the mining towns.
7 billion tons of burnable dirt means that all of the things that are in parts per million go up the chimney into the air or are left as liquid or solid waste. Something that is 1 part per million ends up being 7000 tons. Mercury that gets into fish and causes birth defects and harms infant development. Arsenic is released by coal usage … Arsenic is you know… poison. Toxic metals. Even the Uranium and Thorium in the coal gets dispersed.
China’s coal-fired power plants emitted an estimated 200 ± 90 tons of mercury in 1999, which was about 38% of Chinese human-generated mercury emissions (45% being emitted from non-ferrous metals smelting. China coal use more than tripled since 1999. China used 1 billion tons in 1999 to 3.5 billion tons in 2010. U.S. coal-fired electricity-generating power plants owned by utilities emitted an estimated 48 tons of mercury in 1999, the largest source of man-made mercury pollution in the U.S. In 1995-96, this accounted for 32.6% of all mercury emitted into the air by human activity in the U.S. In addition, 13.1% was emitted by coal-fired industrial and mixed-use commercial boilers, and 0.3% by coal-fired residential boilers, bringing the total U.S. mercury pollution due to coal combustion to 46% of the U.S. man-made mercury sources.
Every detail which comes out when you examine every step of the processes for coal closely comes along with the mental comment…”Well that can’t be good”.
So for every person on earth over 1 ton of coal is burned each year and less than 10 grams of uranium is used. 28.3 grams in an ounce. So 0.35 ounces of uranium per person.
In major cities there is between 20-150 micrograms of particulates (PM10 10 micron) per cubic meter of air.
Each day you take over 20,000 breaths and breathe about 35 pounds of air. At sea level and at 20 °C, dry air has a density of approximately 1.2 kg per cubic meter. So every day you are breathing 13.2 cubic meters of air. So 0.2-1.5 grams of particulates each day pass through your lungs every day unless you live some of the particularly clean air areas.
In one year 73-547 grams of particulates pass through your lungs. So in Beijing over 1 pound of particulates through someones lungs each year. 2.6-5 ounces of particulates every year for people living in many major US cities. So every 4-6 years, one pound of particulates through the lungs even for cities in the USA.
This is why it effects your health, because you are coming into close contact with it. Breathing the stuff (particulates). Eating it (like the Mercury or Arsenic).
1 ton of oil is about 7.3 barrels of crude oil. 89 million barrels of liquid fuel per day is 4.45 billion tons of oil and oil equivalent. The oil we use weighs 63.5% of the weight of the coal that we use.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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