How Green Energy Can Improve Public Health In The Face Of Climate Change
Faced with climate change, renewable technology will undoubtedly boost public health. But we battle with Covid-19 at this juncture. Vaccination process has already begun in several countries. In comparison, things are returning to normal. We do have a long way to go, though. We should speak of climate change and why environmental health in the world today before we start talking about renewable energy solutions.
In the term ‘climate change’ the global climate changes on earth are seen by the rise in average temperatures and irritable rainfall because of natural factors, and by the human intervention as well.
Building wind and solar farms helps reduce human impacts on climate change by shifting toxic emissions from coal-fired power plants. A recent research reveals that there is another significant contribution to the production of renewables: cost savings from cleaner, life-saving air.
Researchers at Harvard University, in an attempt to illustrate the budgetary importance of renewable energy programs in terms of enhancing public health, have shown that energy saving initiatives and low-carbon energy sources will save a region of between $5.7 million and $210 million annually on the basis of the agreed value of human life.
These advantages depend on the form of low-carbon electricity involved and the population density of the region around a coal-fired power plant whose emissions are decreased by a renewable energy initiative, according to a report published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Renewables and energy conservation initiatives — core elements of the Obama administration’s latest Renewable Power Strategy — are beginning to displace coal-fired power plants and other fossil fuels that are key causes of climate change. They also help to minimize toxic emissions of nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide.
The Harvard report contributes to recent studies suggesting that global action on climate change will boost public health. A research by the Environmental Protection Agency released in June showed that by the end of the century, 57,000 fewer Americans would suffer each year from poor air pollution if the worst consequences of climate change were avoided.
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University, who is not associated with the report. “With the help of this study the public and policy makers will get more educated about these impacts and it will allow them to differentiate the full cost of fossil fuels versus renewables and make better choices about our future energy.”
Using a variety of various computer models to quantify the risk of pollution of power plants to public health, the report reveals that constructing wind turbines and introducing energy conservation policies provide the greatest public health benefits.
Coal-fired power plants are commonly used to produce power at all times, independent of demand. So, gas, the main polluter in the energy industry, is the primary source of power in the middle of the night where the fewest people consume electricity.
When consumers use the most energy, such as during the middle of a hot summer day, other low-carbon electricity sources, such as natural gas, solar and wind, help satisfy the higher demand for electricity. But at night, when power demand is low, natural gas plants are idle and solar panels are not generating electricity.
“The overall health impact of air pollution is increasing as more people are exposed to air pollution, so the benefits are even higher when air pollution is reduced in areas with a high population.”
This suggests that regions that already have a lot of low-carbon electricity sources have benefited the least from constructing more renewables, while areas with the most coal-fired power production have benefited the most, especially regions that are very densely populated.
The study showed that wind turbines constructed between Cincinnati and Chicago provided $210 million in annual health benefits, while another wind farm in the less heavily settled south of New Jersey provided $110 million in benefits.
The same was true of the energy efficiency programs introduced in Cincinnati, which produced 200 million dollars in off-peak and 20 million dollars in peak hours. In Eastern Pennsylvania, comparable interventions produced $130 million in off-peak and $5.7 million in peak hours.
Daniel M. Kammen, Director of the Clean and Sufficient Energy Laboratory at the University of California-Berkeley, who is not associated with the report, said the “gold standard” is the model used by the study to measure the human health impacts of air pollution.
“The U.S. has a very advanced record of human health impacts,” he said. “The environmental impacts are more difficult to quantify.”
While he called the report “solid,” he said it did not resolve environmental justice issues linked to public health connected with emissions from coal-fired power plants. The study assumes that everyone around the country is equal, but Kammen said that some people are more vulnerable than others, particularly low-income minority communities that are often situated in places where power plants are being installed.