I saw these two articles about the real costs of coal. If you think coal is a cheaper way to generate electricity, look at these:
#1) This looks at the hidden costs of coal on the American people's health and on the economy:
It turns out that coal is NOT a cheaper way to generate electricity, just cheaper for the coal mining companies to sell and for the electric utilities to burn. The rest of us pay for it with lung ailments and cancer, with ruined mountains, streams and lakes - and now worst of all, with CO2 that stays in the atmosphere and destabilizes our climate for centuries. If those costs are included (and this chart doesn't include the costs of climate change), coal is more expensive than any renewable energy choice. So coal companies walk away with billions in profits while selling a dangerous product, and we pay all the hidden costs!
#2) Here's a picture of the number of deaths per watt of electricity generated for coal, oil and nuclear. Take a look at the picture and make your own judgment:
Here is the original post referenced on grist.org - it has an observation about how human nature judges nuclear as "dangerous" (and I'm not saying it's not), and coal as "safe". Again, make your own judgment:
PS Here's the view of the full data set (and a link to the data itself):
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