The main sources of ambient air pollution are:
In this page I will deal mainly with the burning of Australian coal for power generation, called thermal coal; the burning of high-grade coal, called metallurgical coal, while not generally so polluting does add to the problem.
It is also necessary to mention that the burning of fossil fuels is one of the main causes of climate change, ocean acidification and sea level rise. Collectively these will kill even more people than air pollution.
Outside Australia, people and the more progressive organisations are turning away from coal because they see its shortcomings and because they see it lacks a viable economic future. They are turning toward clean, non-polluting, renewable energy.
"It's particularly important that we do not demonise the coal industry and if there was one fundamental problem, above all else, with the carbon tax [brought in by the previous far more responsible Gillard government] was that it said to our people, it said to the wider world, that a commodity which in many years is our biggest single export, somehow should be left in the ground and not sold. Well really and truly, I can think of few things more damaging to our future."Ex-Prime Minister Abbott and those with similar disregard for the world's future would like to export even more coal and death, for the sake of short-term profits, and they will do so if the Australian people allow them to. Mr Abbott, who calls himself a Christian, has not the slightest conception of morality.
US President Barack Obama said in late May 2014:
"We don't have to choose between the health of our economy and the health of our children"By 2018 Mr Abbott had been removed from the Prime Ministership and had little political influence, but he and others obsessed with coal, of whom there are still many with great political influence in Australia, want to keep the coal-cash-cow going and want minimal, if any, action on climate change and associated problems. (Even by early 2021, the Morrison government continues it obsession with fossil fuels and go-slow campaign on renewable energy development.)
How much CO2?In 2012 Australia mined about 430 million tonnes of coal. This was about 14 tonnes each second. When these 14 tonnes were burned they produced about 25 tonnes of CO2 every second – which goes straight into the atmosphere!
Deaths to be expected from proposed coal mines in the Galilee Basin, Queensland, should they ever eventuate
Just two mines will cause around 18 thousand deaths each year
As discussed above, from the WHO report, it is reasonable to accept that there are two million deaths caused by coal burning world-wide each year. If we accept that the deaths due to burning the coal exported from Australian mines cause deaths at the same rate we can do some calculations.
Several mines are proposed in the Galilee Basin in Queensland. Two of the largest:
"China's cancer rates exploding, more than 4 million people diagnosed in 2015, study says". Written by ABC's China Correspondent Matthew Carney, 2016/03/24.
"In some of the industrial provinces, lung cancer rates have increased a staggering four-fold" and the cause seems to be air pollution, largely due to coal burning.
"Cancer has been the leading cause of death in China since 2010, with lung cancer causing the most deaths."
China is a major export market for Australian coal.
article for the Times of India in 2020/02/13 headlined "Pollution from fossil fuels costing India Rs 10.7 lakh crore every year". (Rs 10.7 lakh crore is 10.7 trillion rupees or about Aus$190 billion.)
The article went on to say that:
"The cost [of air pollution] for India is equivalent to 5.4% of its annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP)." and
India is one of Australia's biggest export markets for coal.