How does renewable energy improve public health?
Subject: How does renewable energy improve public health?
Description: General description of health benefits connected/associated with renewable energy
Renewable energy and energy efficiency measures can lead to health benefits worth millions of dollars a year globally. As a matter of fact, each year a large number of people dies due to the various health problems associated with energy production from non-renewable sources, especially coal. Indeed, in most countries, the primary source of electrical energy production is coal and other non-renewable sources. Consequently, the air and water pollution caused by coal and natural gas plants leads to the breathing problems, neurological damage, heart attack, cancer, premature death and a host of other serious problems that harm human health.
Additionally, the coal power plants and the fuel-based power plants are the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to the climate change and also releases other pollutants like sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter originated from smog and soot. So, the replacement of non-renewable energy sources with renewable ones, can result in significant drop in CO2 production with favourable health outcomes for public.
Furthermore, the renewable energy sources are the means that can slow down the global warming. Since decades, human activities, especially the industrial activities are overloading our atmosphere with carbon dioxide and other global warming emissions. Actually, the comparison becomes clear when you look at the numbers. Burning natural gas for electricity releases between 0.6 and 2 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt-hour (CO2E/kWh); coal emits between 1.4 and 3.6 pounds of CO2E/kWh. Wind, on the other hand, is responsible for only 0.02 to 0.04 pounds of CO2E/kWh on a life-cycle basis; solar 0.07 to 0.2; geothermal 0.1 to 0.2; and hydroelectric between 0.1 and 0.5 CO2E/kWh. These gases act like a blanket, that traps the heat, leading to the green gas effect and the global warming. Global warming, in its turn results in a series of harmful consequences and global impacts, namely, from stronger and more frequent storms, to drought, sea level rise and extinction.
In addition, wind and solar energy production requires essentially no water to operate and thus does not pollute water resources or strain supplies by competing with agriculture, drinking water, or other important water needs. In contrast, fossil fuels usually have negative impacts on water resources. To illustrate, both coal mining and natural gas drilling can pollute sources of drinking water, as well as thermal power plants, including those powered by coal, gas, and oil, withdraw and consume water for cooling.
Moreover, the phenomena of acid rain production is related to the energy production from fossil fuels as opposed to the renewable energy sources which do not cause acid rain. This substance occurs when sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide blend with water vapor and oxygen, creating a liquid that has a higher concentration of sulfuric and nitric acid than the normal rain. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that acid rain is very harmful to forests, lakes and streams, meaning that members of the animal kingdom are more directly affected by acid rain than humans. It has also adverse effect on the external surface of residential buildings and historical monuments like the pyramid of Egypt, Taj Mahal, Great Wall of Chine etc.
Meanwhile, renewable energy production creates more jobs compared with fossil fuel technologies, which are typically mechanized and capital intensive. The reason is that the renewable energy industry is more labor intensive, creating more room for work force. For example, the solar panels need to be installed by humans; wind farms require technicians for maintenance. This means that, on average, more jobs are created for each unit of electricity generated from renewable sources than from fossil fuels. Consequently, renewable energy production results in an improved individual economy and physical activity, as well as promotes a safer workplace with less occupational hazards.
To conclude, although there is still much work to do in the field of renewable energy sources and its production, they have still positive impacts like making our planet greener and having positive health outcomes globally. Therefore, the bottom line is that, the more the standards promote cleaner fuels and energy efficiency, the greater are the public health benefits.