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We know burning coal releases more CO2 than any other fossil fuel, but there are plenty of other reasons to move away from coal in favor of other energy sources.

Air pollution causes people in northern China to live an average of 5.5 years shorter than their southern counterparts, according to a study released on Monday which claims to show in unprecedented detail the link between air pollution and life expectancy.

High levels of air pollution in northern China – much of it caused by an over-reliance on burning coal for heat – will cause 500 million people to lose an aggregate 2.5 billion years from their lives, the authors predict in the study, published in the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Coal plants in the US often have scrubbers and other pollution control equipment that reduces the amount of air pollution. However, those scrubbers are not 100% effective, and the captured fly ash waste needs to be disposed of in some way.

- Pete
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I just finished reading some EIA materials on the externalities involving coal, as well as your post at METaR:

One of the reasons I tend to favor an effort to develop renewable energy sources is my perception that fossil fuels have externalities that have costs that are borne by the general public and not the companies that extract and deliver the fossil fuels.
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