The True Costs of Coal

Sunday, February 19, 2012: 1:00 PM-2:30 PM
Room 110 (VCC West Building)
Coal plays a significant role in the world's energy economy. The United States and China contain and produce the largest amount of coal in the world; however, recent studies have found that global coal reserve estimates are inconclusive. Nonetheless, coal production is projected to increase with the growing energy demands of a population that could reach 9 billion by 2050. What does this mean for communities and ecosystems? Is it responsible to continue our reliance on coal as the primary driver for electricity generation? Is it even feasible? Understanding the true costs of coal is vital to our society's sustainability and energy security in the 21st century. This symposium presents recent research on the impacts of coal mining and production through a multidisciplinary approach of human health, ecological science, economics, and community resilience by top scholars in each field. Using valuation methods, these impacts will be translated to monetizable estimates that reveal the true price per kilowatt of power production. Externalized costs of each source of energy production have not been successfully calculated, and certain impacts that are quantifiable are difficult to monetize. The symposium will serve as a starting point to advance the research on full cost accounting with regard to human welfare and sustainability.
Paul Epstein, Center for Health and the Global Environment
Samir Doshi, Queen's University
Jonathan Buonocore, Harvard University
James E. Hansen, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
Melissa Ahern, Washington State University
Health Consequences in Coal Mining Regions
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