- The deforestation and landscape changes associated with [mountain top removal] have impacts on carbon storage and water cycles . . . [It is] estimated that each year, between 6 and 6.9 million tons of CO2e are emitted due to removal of forest plants and decomposition of forest litter, and possibly significantly more from the mining “spoil” and lost soil carbon.
- Over the life cycle of coal, chemicals are emitted directly and indirectly into water supplies from mining, processing, and power plant operations. Chemicals in the waste stream include ammonia, sulfur, sulfate, nitrates, nitric acid, tars, oils, fluorides, chlorides, and other acids and metals, including sodium, iron, cyanide, plus additional unlisted chemicals
- The nitrogen-containing emissions (from burning all fossil fuels and from agriculture) cause damages through several pathways. When combined with volatile organic compounds, they can form not only particulates but also ground-level ozone (photochemical smog). Ozone itself is corrosive to the lining of the lungs, and also acts as a local heat-trapping gas.
It's all very impressive, but something about such studies bothers me.
Such studies, while decisive works of hard science, always lack something. They can discuss with detail how to protect the human being, but they can't answer the basic questions about what it means to be human.
This is not a criticism. It's just something to remember.
Questions linked to the care and preservation of the environment today need to give due consideration to the energy problem. The fact that some States, power groups and companies hoard non-renewable energy resources represents a grave obstacle to development in poor countries. Those countries lack the economic means either to gain access to existing sources of non-renewable energy or to finance research into new alternatives . . . The technologically advanced societies can and must lower their domestic energy consumption, either through an evolution in manufacturing methods or through greater ecological sensitivity among their citizens. It should be added that at present it is possible to achieve improved energy efficiency while at the same time encouraging research into alternative forms of energy . . . This responsibility is a global one, for it is concerned not just with energy but with the whole of creation, which must not be bequeathed to future generations depleted of its resources. Human beings legitimately exercise a responsible stewardship over nature, in order to protect it, to enjoy its fruits and to cultivate it in new ways, with the assistance of advanced technologies, so that it can worthily accommodate and feed the world's population. On this earth there is room for everyone: here the entire human family must find the resources to live with dignity, through the help of nature itself—God's gift to his children—and through hard work and creativity. At the same time we must recognize our grave duty to hand the earth on to future generations in such a condition that they too can worthily inhabit it and continue to cultivate it. This means being committed to making joint decisions “after pondering responsibly the road to be taken, decisions aimed at strengthening that covenant between human beings and the environment, which should mirror the creative love of God, from whom we come and towards whom we are journeying”. Let us hope that the international community and individual governments will succeed in countering harmful ways of treating the environment. It is likewise incumbent upon the competent authorities to make every effort to ensure that the economic and social costs of using up shared environmental resources are recognized with transparency and fully borne by those who incur them, not by other peoples or future generations: the protection of the environment, of resources and of the climate obliges all international leaders to act jointly and to show a readiness to work in good faith, respecting the law and promoting solidarity with the weakest regions of the planet. One of the greatest challenges facing the economy is to achieve the most efficient use—not abuse—of natural resources, based on a realization that the notion of “efficiency” is not value-free.