A recent study shows that coal-burning power plants have already caused over one billion premature deaths globally.
The study, by the nonprofit environmental group Friends of the Earth, found that as of 2012, coal-fired power plants were responsible for more than half of all premature deaths.
Its authors, John Kiley and Andrew Stocks, used data from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the World Health Organization’s World Health Database.
According to FAO data, coal fires are responsible for 1.5 million premature deaths a year.
As a percentage of global deaths, coal plants cause about 13% of global warming, the study found.
“The coal industry’s carbon footprint has been doubling every five years,” Kiley said.
It also has been increasing by almost 25% annually over the past decade.
This isn’t just a problem for the US.
The United Kingdom has the highest per capita coal consumption in the world, according to Greenpeace.
There are around 3,500 coal power plants operating in the United Kingdom.
One of the biggest coal-fuelled disasters is the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet.
In 2016, the United States experienced a massive collapse of its ice sheets that was responsible for up to 30% of sea level rise.
At the time, the US Department of Energy (DOE) warned that climate change would result in up to half of coastal communities losing their coastal habitats by 2100.
While the world has come a long way in tackling climate change, coal remains the leading cause of climate change.
Coal emits nearly one-third of all carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere, according the Green Climate Fund.
Despite the dangers of climate disruption and coal’s role in climate change—which is a growing threat to the world’s economy—the fossil fuel industry continues to be a major source of economic growth for the world.
Sources: Newsweek, Hollywood Reporter, Green Climate Foundation, The New York Times, Reuters, Associated Press