This Fossil Fuel can Create Energy and Help People, but it Can Also Harm the Environment

by Cinthia Diaz, age 12

            Coal is a common mineral that we use everyday. About 41 percent of Earth’s energy comes from coal.
            Coal is made of plants and trees that died over 300 million years ago. As plant matter and trees decay, it builds up in peat bogs. The peat then gets buried in layers of sand and mud due to rising sea levels. Over millions of years pressure binds the peat together firmly and the peat hardens, turning into coal.
            Earth currently holds 4,000 billion tons of coal. Over four billion tons of coal is mined each year. It’s largely mined to be burned for light and heat. Coal is also processed into tar, oil, and a byproduct called coke. Coke is used for producing steel and iron. Dyes, fertilizers, nylon, and some perfumes use the same oil and tar found in coal.
            Coal is a fossil fuel that is made of tar, oils, and carbon. Lignite, bituminous, and anthracite are the three main types of coal. Lignite is the lowest quality coal, made up of less than 50 percent carbon. Bituminous is the second-highest quality coal containing around 70 percent carbon.
            Anthracite is the highest quality coal composed of approximately 95 percent carbon. Anthracite coal gives off the most heat, while releasing the least amount of smoke and gas into the atmosphere. Coal of the lowest quality produces the least amount of heat and is the most harmful to the environment.
            We use coal in many ways that greatly benefit us. But its use also has serious consequences for our planet. Coal releases carbon monoxide and soot, poisonous gases that contribute to global warming. To fix this problem, most factories now filter out soot and other poisonous gases, which partially cleans the coal.
            To learn more about how student advocates are seeking other ways to reduce the harmful effects of fossil fuels like coal, read my fellow reporter Virginia’s article at

[Sources: Simpson Street Free Press; Associated Press]

That's the smart thnkinig we could all benefit from. – DoraThat's the smart thnkinig we could all benefit from. (2014-12-06 22:12)