Environmental problems caused by coal energy may be regarded in terms of various components: mining, transportation, and combustion and waste disposal. The environmental considerations include the emission of dust to the atmosphere and chemicals to groundwater; land subsistence in underground mining and land reclamation in surface mining; disposal of mine waste; miners' safety; and water consumption, especially in dry areas. Transportation problems include dust and water pollution (mainly from storage piles); traffic noise and congestion; and accident risk. Combustion and waste disposal elicit the most concern due to the oxides, monoxides, dioxides, trace minerals and volatile elements of which the flue gases are composed.
In China rapidly increasing energy generation from coal, three-quarters of which is for industrial or electric power use, has led to some of the world's highest concentrations of fine particulates and sulphur oxides, some of the most acidic rainfall in the world, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease five times more prevalent in urban populations than in the United States.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
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