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Ranking energy resources

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What are the direct and indirect environmental impacts of coal, oil, natural gas, biomass, hydroelectric, nuclear, solar, wind, and hydrogen usage in Canada?

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This solution is an essay that ranks the environmental impacts of different energy sources. Included in the solution are references for further reading. As well, the solution contains a link to a website that would be of further interest.

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The environmental impacts of coal, oil, natural gas, biomass, hydroelectric, nuclear, solar, wind, and hydrogen have direct and indirect impacts in Canada. The impacts of each of these energy resources differ in their level of environmental disturbance. In this paper, the above resources will be examined for their environmental effects. From this analysis the resources can be approximately ranked according to the overall degree of impact on the environment.
Coal is the most abundant fossil fuel in Canada and is used 4-5 times as much as oil and gas. Direct effects of coal include hazards in mining, such as the disasters seen in Springhill and in Westray when the mines collapsed. Mining of coal also changes the landscape of the surrounding area through digging of extensive tunnels and in strip mining where huge tracts of land are removed. Indirect effects are seen in the generation of air pollution. Coal generates lots of carbon dioxide (CO2) and liberates other pollutants like sulphates (SO42-). Sulphur in the air can be scrubbed out with falling rain resulting in acid rain, which can have a severe impact on agriculture. CO2 is a greenhouse gas that can cause global warming, which has numerous repercussions like crop damage, flooding due to polar ice melting and bleaching of coral reefs.
Petroleum or crude oil accounts for 34% of primary energy production and 39% of total consumption in Canada. Crude oil is refined into other energy resources: gasoline, diesel fuel oil and home heating oil. Extraction of oil if done properly (NRC, 2000), such as using angled drilling and avoiding fragile ecosystems, does not have a huge direct impact. ...

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