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Opposing Viewpoints

The US National Guard is the country’s primary federal and state military reserve force, which is composed of two divisions—the Army National Guard (ARNG) and the Air National Guard (ANG). The service offers incentives and other benefits, and allows individuals to serve the military on a part-time basis. However, the National Guard is not for everyone, considering the possibility of deployment and time commitment, along with the benefits it offers. With this in mind, you should know its pros and cons to come up with the best decision before committing to enlist to it.

List of Pros of Joining the National Guard

1. Education
The National Guard offers you opportunities to pursue higher education. For instance, it gives you 100% federal tuition assistance to pay for your schooling. And if you have taken out a student loan already, you will still be eligible for the service’s student loan repayment program, to help you repay such debt. You can also apply for its Montgomery GI Bill, which provides you a monthly stipend while you study, or the Post 9/11 GI Bill, which covers your tuition and provides an annual stipend for your books. Your eligibility for these programs will vary depending on the amount of time you served and your job.

2. Job Training
One of the best benefits you get from enlisting to the National Guard is its paid job training. To be eligible for this, you must qualify for your desired job with an adequate score on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test, which is a requirement you should take prior to enlistment.

With this benefit, you can choose from various careers, including military police, aviation, engineering, medical services and even special forces. Take note that your job training can only be received after completing the basic combat training, where you learn tactical, marksmanship and combat skills.

3. Good Opportunity for Personal and Professional Development
Joining the National Guard should be a great decision to make, considering that it can help you develop personally and professionally. You would become a much better person. The service will give you some of the most challenging times to help you achieve this and experience a positive change in morale.

4. Work Hours and Pay
Because the National Guard is a part-time commitment, it allows you to continue or pursue a civilian career. After completing your trainings for basic combat, advanced skills and job, you will work one weekend per month in addition to two full weeks every year for the service. You will be paid based on your position and rank for the days you work. Moreover, the part-time schedule will give you a lot of time for your family and civilian life.

5. Greater Stability
The National Guard can provide you with greater stability while studying business than the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR). Upon commissioning, you will agree to a military service obligation (MSO) of 8 years, which you can choose to fully or partially complete. If you leave active duty before the 8-year mark, you can just serve the remaining time in the IRR.

By joining the guard or reserves, you will be granted by your unit between one to two years of stabilization, which is state-dependent, meaning that you are guaranteed to not be deployed during that period of time. If the state in which you are studying in offers 2 years of stabilization, you can complete your degree without having to worry about being recalled to deploy midway through. This is certainly a big plus for you as member of the National Guard. Aside from this, you will be given the incentive to join the guard or reserves while still on active duty. Your guard or reserve recruiting counselor can offer an MSO reduction incentive, which will cut your remaining service obligation in half. This means you can feasibly complete your obligation for military service by the time you leave business school.

List of Cons of Joining the National Guard

1. Commitment
One potential disadvantage to enlisting in the National Guard is time commitment. Once you join the service, you cannot simply quit if you do not like it. During your enlistment process, you should commit to serving for 3, 6 or 8 years, so make sure you are prepared and committed to completing several years of service.

2. Deployment
Another disadvantage of the National Guard is the possibility of being deployed in other countries. For example, you might be ordered to help with responding to natural disasters or you may even be deployed to camps where there are international conflicts. These duties might expose you to hostile fire and other dangerous conditions. Aside from this, you will also be away from your family and civilian job for several months at a time. Though you are paid for the time of your deployment, you are compelled to spend time serving under dangerous conditions.

3. Slow Promotion
It is known that promotion in the National Guard is slower than other military services in the US. Because of its structure and size, it needs less people to get promoted every month than the country’s regular army does. If you joined the Army Reserve or went active duty, you would get promoted faster.

4. Low-Quality Equipment and Training
Despite the benefit of training the National Guard offers, its quality of training and equipment is said to be low. This is due to the fact that it is doing so many deployments, and the budgets for equipment and training are sometimes smaller than they would be for the active duty soldiers or the reserve. If you want to go the citizen/soldier route, it is recommended to go into the reserve, instead of the guard, due to the budget factors stated above. However, this does not mean that the National Guard is a low-quality organization at all. Rather, it is a group of high-quality NCOs and officers.

While serving the National Guard might require you much effort and commitment, it would still be manageable like any other career. Just weigh down the pros and cons mentioned above to come up with the best decision.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), or what is colloquially known as Obamacare, is a federal statute of the United States that was signed into law on March 23, 2010 by President Barack Obama. It is one of the most significant regulatory overhauls of the U.S. healthcare system, together with the Amendment of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, since Medicare and Medicaid was passed in 1965.

ACA was designed for specific reasons:

  • To increase the quality and affordability of health insurance.
  • To reduce the number of people who are uninsured.
  • To ensure that healthcare cost for individuals and the government is reduced.

For all its good intentions, however, ACA is not widely received with open arms. In fact, the number of negative messages conveyed to Americans regarding the act is 15 times more than the positive messages. It is true, however, that Obamacare has its share of pros and cons, which people should know and understand in order to fully make an informed decision about the act.

List of Pros of the Affordable Care Act

1. Access to low-cost insurance.
Those in favor of the health care legislation called ACA a “landmark legislation” and a “historic victory” that reformed the U.S. health care system, by making health care more affordable. Through subsidies that will help cover the costs, people who cannot afford health insurance will now be able to do so. Health insurance companies are also mandated to implement the 80/20 rule where they spend 80% on patient care and quality improvements, while keeping their profits and other costs at 20%. Affordable health insurance is also made possible through Medicaid expansion, the employers, and the health insurance marketplace. What is even better is that limits on coverage are eliminated.

2. Prevention of several diseases.
Under Obamacare, preventive care is free. Health insurance plans must cover a long list of preventive services, including screening for some cancers or diabetes, at no cost to you. Gynecological exams, lab work, and other and well-woman visits are now fully covered. There are also 26 preventive services for children that are covered, such as screening for autism or obesity, immunization and counseling.

Through the preventive services, people will be preemptively tested for possible ailments, especially because insurance policies now need to include the 10 essential health benefits. When an ailment is discovered earlier, expensive treatment can be avoided or reduced.

3. More people will qualify.
Through ACA, all insurance plans are required to cover the 10 essential health insurance benefits, which are emergency room services, lab test, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental and behavioral health treatment, pediatric care, preventive and wellness visits, prescription drugs, outpatient care, and services and devices for people with injuries and other chronic conditions.

Patients that had been denied insurance before because their illness disqualifies them can now be covered. The act further widened the scope because insurance companies are no longer allowed to deny coverage to anyone with pre-existing conditions. They are also forbidden from dropping them or raising the premiums once a policyholder becomes sick.

Those whose do not qualify for Medicaid with an income of less than 400% of the federal poverty level will get tax credits instead.

4. Added coverage for children.
Children up to age 26 can now be added to their parent’s health insurance plans, providing them protection while they still can’t afford to pay for their own insurance. Even if they have preexisting health conditions, they would still be covered because Obamacare prohibits insurance companies from denying them protection. Coverage must also continue long after a policyholder gets sick, even when they were healthy when the policy was in place. In this instance, insurance companies will enjoy an increase in profit, since they receive premiums for children that are considerably healthier, and would stay healthy for a long time.

5. Business benefits.
The makeover on individual health insurance proves beneficial for small business owners. This is because employees now have the option to keep their old policy, even when they switch jobs, have the option to choose the coverage and the provider that best fit their needs, and be generally healthy because insurance plans now cover the 10 health benefits, regardless of pre-existing conditions. What is even better is that employers may be eligible for premium tax credits.

List of Cons of the Affordable Care Act

1. Massive cancellations of existing insurance plans.
An estimated 2.6 million people had their health insurance cancelled because it did not comply with Obamacare standards, according to Health Affairs. Cancellation is mainly because their old policy doesn’t meet the 10 essential health benefits. This made healthcare insurance more expensive to some people, because they now have to transition to other plans, shop for another insurance, and have services added, which were previously not included in their old plans.

Worst case scenario, 3 to 5 million people are at risk of losing their company-sponsored health care insurance, because businesses will find the new policy more expensive, what with all the inclusions. They would rather pay the penalty, than allow their employees to purchase their private insurance.

2. Initial high-cost burden.
During the first few years under Obamacare, the nature of the coverage will have high cost. After all, preventive testing and care is very expensive. Since it is given for free under ACA, many people would opt for it. This would mean high medical spending at the start.

3. Tax burden.
Remember that ACA is able to offer affordable health care insurance because of subsidies that will cover the rest of the cost. Where does the money come? From the new taxes imposed on high-income earners and the health care industry. The new taxes are sure to affect the individual mandate and the employer mandate.

People who do not have insurance or don’t qualify for Medicaid will be assessed a tax of 1% or $95, whichever is higher. This would mean that 1.2% of the population will end up paying the tax. Even more bad news, taxes have already been raised in 2013 on individuals with incomes exceeding $200,000 and couples filing jointly an income of $250,000. They also pay an additional Medicare tax at 3.8%. No wonder opponents of Obamacare called it an “unconstitutional” takeover on the health care system.

Common stocks are securities that give you equity ownership in a corporation. As a common stocks holder, you will have voting rights and a share of the company’s dividends and/or capital appreciation. As a mere investor, however, you are at the bottom of the priority ladder. If the company goes bankrupt, you will only receive your money after debt holders, bondholders and preferred stockholders have been given their share.

This makes common stocks riskier compared to preferred stocks or debt shares. But because it performs better than bonds and preferred shares over time, it provides certain advantages. This only shows that common stocks are associated with pros and cons. How good or bad the situation is for you, depends on which side of the spectrum that you are in — whether you are investing on common stock or issuing it.

List of Advantages of Common Stocks

1. Yield huge gains.
As already mentioned, common stocks often outperform bonds, deposit certificate and other types of investment products. As they are guaranteed, what you stand to gain has a minimum and a maximum. Common stocks, on the other hand, have no limits to the amount of money that you will gain. Although there is always a risk of losing, you are also guaranteed of earning large gains. This is something every investor wants and needs.

A company issuing common stocks in the financial markets use them as an alternative to debts, as it is a less expensive route. Unlike debts, an issuer of common stocks is not obligated to pay interest to investors, only discretionary payments on dividends in the event that the company has extra cash.

2. An ideal investment.
With this type of financial vehicle, you are only allowed to invest with limited liability. That is, whatever amount you invested initially would be the most that you will lose in the event of liquidation. And because you purchase common stocks on cash basis, you can put a cap on the amount of money to invest. Compared to leverage transactions, you are not at risk of losing money that exceeds the total funds you have invested.

3. Legal liabilities are restricted.
Since you are a passive holder of common stocks, your liability to a company is limited. Whatever problems that arise outside a stockholder’s financial investment, you will not be affected. Only the people running the company would have to face the consequences. The only thing you should be worrying about is the company’s health. As long as it is earning and moving on an upward trend, your investment and financial future is safe.

4. Easy buying and selling process.
As this type of investment is liquid, you have the option to sell it any time you want, or buy more if you wish to grow your stocks. What is even better is that common stocks can be purchased at a fair price.

5. There are two ways to gain benefits.
Capital gains and dividends are two ways to earn from stocks. Each stock you own gives you a cut of whatever a company earns since you are a partial owner. If the value of the stock appreciates, so will the capital gains. If the business’s earnings go beyond what it needs to cover maintenance and growth, it has the option to distribute the excess to holders of common stocks, or make dividend payments.

List of Disadvantages of Common Stocks

1. High risk investment.
Risks are always associated with investing, but more of these are linked to common stocks. Their prices are volatile, fluctuating erratically. If you panic every time the price goes down and sells your stocks, you could end up losing more. The value of the stocks can also change without warning, making it difficult to evaluate their performance even if the company is doing well. Worse, if the business goes bankrupt, you can say goodbye to your investment.

2. Lack of control.
Buying stocks from a company is a tricky situation. Your success practically depends on whether or not a business has excellent practices and strategies. Since you have no right to demand a copy of their books or business plans, you would have to do your research in other ways. As a shareholder, you are also subject to the will of stockholders. You cannot join in the decision-making process or suggest a better way of doing things. Therefore, if stockholders don’t do their jobs well, you could go down with them. This is why it is vital that you perform due diligence before you invest.

There is one way to have some control, however. You have to buy a significant amount of shares to gain a majority in the investment. Unfortunately, not everyone will be able to afford this. Moreover, companies usually put a cap of the number of common stocks they sell to keep the control of existing shareholders strong.

3. Last one to get paid.
This is probably the biggest downside of common stocks. As previously mentioned, if a company liquidates, you would not get paid until those that rank high on the priority ladder gets their share. Good enough if you get to pull out your stocks just in time. But because stocks don’t always behave as consistently, anticipating its performance would be difficult. You can only hope that you do get paid, after everyone else does, including the creditors, employees, suppliers and taxes.

On the side of an issuing company, selling too many common stocks can have a negative impact on the existing shareholders. It is bad news if the business keeps increasing its outstanding shares. According to the Wall Street Journal, the ownership of shareholders and voting influence will diminish when the stocks enter the market.

When it comes to common stocks, getting the companies right is just as important as getting the price right. The best combination would be to buy stocks at a fair price from a company with a strong and longstanding reputation in the market. Unfortunately, the stock market is not always cooperative. Or make that rarely cooperative. This is why timing and research are very important.

Just recently, popular photoblog Humans of New York (HoNY) featured a picture of a young woman in graduation garb, with the caption “I’m an illegal immigrant”. The photo quickly became viral, with lots of people saying that the young woman has achieved what many natural-born Americans haven’t: that is, going to college and earning a degree.

The HoNY photo is just one of the many examples that show that getting an education is difficult for most (if not all) illegal immigrants and that society doesn’t really expect them to graduate and succeed. Fortunately, this can be amended with the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (aka DREAM) Act. The act grants conditional residential status to young illegal immigrants who:

  • Can prove that they entered the United States before they turned 16 years old and that they’ve been living in the country continuously for at least five years.
  • Have graduated from a U.S. high school or passed the General Educational Development (GED) tests.
  • Have not been involved in any criminal activity and can pass criminal background checks and reviews.
  • Have good moral character.

Once undocumented immigrants obtain conditional residential status and are able to hold it for six years, they can apply for permanent residency as long as they can fulfill the following criteria:

  • They must have graduated from a community college, completed at least two years in college towards a bachelor’s degree, or served at least two years in the U.S. Military.
  • They continue to possess good moral character.
  • They haven’t been involved in any criminal activity and can pass another set of background checks.

Though it’s still a legislative proposal and hasn’t yet been passed (it was introduced in the senate on August 2001 and has been reintroduced several times over the years), the DREAM Act has gained numerous proponents. This comes from the fact that it provides support to young illegal immigrants who strive to finish high school and college and contribute to the betterment of the American society. However, it has also attracted many opponents who believe that the act provides amnesty to illegal immigrants.

List of Pros of the DREAM Act

1. Help undocumented youth achieve their dreams.
According to research, approximately 65,000 undocumented teens who have resided in the U.S. for five years or more graduate from high school annually. Unfortunately, not all of them make it to college because of several factors. For one thing, illegal immigrants don’t have access to Pell Grants and other federal financial programs for students, making it more difficult for them to fund their education. Since they’re excluded from the legal workforce, many also think that earning a bachelor’s degree is useless and therefore get discouraged from obtaining one. As a result, less than 6,500 undocumented teens proceed to college every year.

The DREAM Act aims to change these by encouraging young illegal immigrants to study hard and aim to graduate from college. Since they know their hard work can bring them closer to a successful career and to permanent residency, they have a reason to study well and strive to get their degree.

2. Boost local and national economies.
When undocumented people obtain their graduate degree, they have higher chances of getting good-paying jobs and earning a decent salary. These, in turn, give them a bigger spending power and allow them to open bank accounts, apply for credit cards and even invest in stocks and bonds. As a result, they won’t only make their lives better but they’ll also help in boosting the economy of their town/city and state as well as of the entire United States.

3. Improve the American society as a whole.
Numerous studies have proven that higher educational attainment can lead to lower crime rates. With this in mind, it’s easy to say that encouraging undocumented children to complete their high school and college education can lead to a more peaceful and successful country with higher productivity levels and low poverty and crime rates.

4. Increase military recruitment ratings.
The Department of Defense has been one of the proponents of the DREAM Act mainly because it encourages military recruitment among young people. This, in turn, allows the U.S. military to expand its recruiting pool and have access to undocumented young adults who want to become American soldiers and have the right education, fitness, aptitude and values.

List of Cons of the DREAM Act

1. Shield gang members from deportation.
According to studies done by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), 4,370 gangsters were arrested in 2010. Out of this number, more than 1,300 of them were under 30 years old and had not committed serious crimes. These include those who belonged to gangs that were composed mainly of Central and South American immigrants as well as gangs that were associated with Mexican drug cartels. Because of these, ICE officials fear that the DREAM Act will allow gang members to become conditional and ultimately permanent residents, making them harder to arrest and deport.

2. Encourage chain migration as well as unauthorized migration.
Many opponents of the DREAM Act believe that the promise of becoming conditional and permanent residents in the future is too tempting to foreigners, especially those who live in impoverished countries with economic and socio-political strife. As such, it will open the United States’ doors to would-be illegal immigrants and encourage them to sneak into the country.

However, proponents argue that this cannot really happen since the act only applies to those who were brought to the U.S. as children and have lived here for most of their lives. Even if DREAM Act applicants can proceed to becoming permanent residents, they still have to provide numerous documents, fulfill rigorous requirements and wait for years before they can petition for their parents or siblings.

3. Cause discontent among those who don’t support the act.
The DREAM Act might promote feel-good feelings in its proponents, but it can have an opposite effects on those who oppose the legislation. For one thing, it can stir animosity in those who believe that illegal immigrants are “stealing” jobs and educational opportunities from Americans. This, in turn, can cause undocumented young people to become even more discriminated in school, at work and in other places.

While bilingual education seems like a simple topic for a person to choose and stick with, it is actually a more complicated issue than most of us think. What would be thought of by a certain person as a pro may be considered by another as a con. It is worth noting that different people in different parts of the world have different language needs, and since it pros and cons vary from one to another, it is important to evaluate them. To help you assess this issue, here are separate lists of the pros and cons of bilingual education.

List of Pros of Bilingual Education

1. It makes it easier for us to learn more languages.
The part of your brain that is responsible for learning new things and encouraging spatial growth can be stimulated further with bilingual education. Studies reveal that such training leads to increased brain growth and increased ability to handle multiple tasks at once. So, once you have opened your mind enough to learn a second language, it becomes even easier for you to learn another and so on. When you become bilingual, you will increase your ability to focus on learning new tasks, which also triggers increased concentration and makes multitasking much simpler.

The world is getting smaller every day, and children who have the ability to communicate fluently with a variety of people and cultures are the most likely to rise to the top in a world that is becoming more global than anyone could have imagined.

2. It will be a necessary skill in the future.
As the minority-language-speaking populations continue to rise, children who have learned to speak multiple languages will be highly sought out on the job market. In certain states and communities in the US, for example, the Spanish-speaking population is outnumbering those who are speaking English. Also, the Chinese and Hindi populations are rising steadily. This means that children who are prepared to adapt to this change will be better-equipped to face the problems in the future, as opposed to those who only speak one language.

3. It makes a better-rounded child.
While skeptics believe that bilingual education can confuse a young student, studies prove that it enhances the mind and provides child with a much brighter future, making it easier for him to understand and relate to other cultures. A child who is capable of grasping other languages can open up a larger world to himself and is much more likely to be worldly and cultured. He will be able to study abroad and gain more from his experience than those foreign students who are not capable of speaking the predominant language. Moreover, he will have access to a valuable gateway to positive interactions with other races, leading to rapid personal growth and skill development.

4. It offers multiple personality benefits.
There are plenty of personality benefits children can gain from learning to speak multiple languages. Studies show that those who show the ability to handle such learning have increased their ability to process new sounds, particularly those who use separate languages regularly. These children are also far less likely to experience personality disorders, including anxiety. They are typically less lonely than their single-language-speaking counterparts. Generally put, they have higher levels of self-esteem.

List of Cons of Bilingual Education

1. It poses difficulty for foreign language students to assimilate easily.
One of the most frequent criticisms of bilingual education is that it causes foreign language students to avoid total assimilation into their local culture. After all, in order for us to fully adapt to our country’s current culture is making certain sacrifices, and one of these is our dominant language.

It is stated that bilingual education can widen the cultural gap, as opposed to bridging it. Thus, it becomes more difficult for foreign language students to experience success in other school subjects, such as science and math. To solve this issue, those who speak a minority language should be thought to speak English, while also allowing them to hold onto their native tongue and cultural traditions. Learning a second language should never be an either/or proposition.

2. It reduces focus on a career.
When a child is obliged to spend much of his time learning a second language, he will be limited to develop skills he would need in other areas. Specializing in a particular area can stunt his overall development and can actually lead to a lack of well-rounded learning.

Aside from this, teaching a child to learn a second language can consume a great deal of time and can cause frustration for both the teacher and the student alike. And if the child becomes frustrated with learning, he might also act the same way towards other subjects. Remember that some children respond well to bilingual education, while others don’t. So, it is crucial to spot warning signs in them not to burn them out on learning altogether and adversely affect their opportunities to reach their true potential for their desired careers.

3. It causes lack of qualified teachers.
One prominent problem in bilingual education is the severe lack of qualified teachers to handle the subject. Quality bilingual education requires an expert, patient and firm teacher who have the time in his hands to take care of issues that may arise.

Unfortunately, these professionals are in very short supply, and many of them are already busy teaching the usual subjects, ridding them of the time needed to teach a second language. At a point in time when so many of their capabilities are being stretched to the limit and schools are struggling to fill the gap, the idea of taking skilled bilingual instructors and assigning them to teach what they do best will not be something that is universally supported.

4. It is quite expensive.
Schools are struggling to keep foreign language programs funded as is, and facilitating a dominant language program is far cheaper than educating minority language students. So, if a student does not really understand the language he is being taught, the budget allotted to such a program would be a complete waste.

Now, do you support this type of education? Or, do you think that it does more harm than good in most situations? With the pros and cons mentioned above, you should have gained a better understanding of this issue and come up with a more informed decision.

Coal is a sedimentary organic rock that is highly combustible. It is composed mainly of carbon oxygen and hydrogen, making it a primary source of energy. Coal formation began 360 million to 290 million years ago, a period that yielded a wide variety of coal, which is why the quality of coal deposits are determined by the length of time that they have been formed and how deeply they are buried.

Despite the bad rep, especially coming from environmentalists, coal has many applications and not just in electricity generation, which is why it remains a vital product all over the world. What is used to generate power is known as a steam coal or thermal coal, while the coking coal or metallurgical coal is used mainly in producing steel. If coal mining were to stop, a lot of industries will be affected, including paper manufacturers, pharmaceutical firms, and alumina refineries. This is why it is highly unlikely that coal production will completely stop, unless it totally runs out, which would be a long time coming. Unfortunately, coal has negative impacts, which leave the world torn between two ends of the spectrum.

List of Advantages of Coal

1. Primary energy source.
Coal supplies around 30% of the primary energy needs all over the world, generating 40% of electricity. Some of the biggest producers are China, USA, India and Indonesia. Compared with oil and natural gas, it is one of the most abundant sources of energy. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), coal reserves in the United States alone can last up to approximately 190 for years, while the rest of the world have at least another 300 years. So even if it is considered non-renewable, it is unlikely that there will be a shortage of coal any time soon.

2. Coal mining jobs.
According to EIA, there are an estimated 600 coal generating facilities, 1,100 manufacturing facilities, and 52 coal mines in the United States alone. The mines alone employ about 134,000 people, contributing to high employment, and over the next 10 years, 50,000 new employees will be needed to replace workers who will be retiring. Because the demand for coal continues to rise, employment will also increase, which means there will be no job shortage in the coal industry.

Just recently, Donkin coal mine, an American company in Cape Breton, has just started hiring a new work force. Several positions needed to be filled include underground machine operators, mechanical/electrical mine technicians and foremen, all of which have a pay rate of between $30 and $35 per hour, as the job advertisement goes. There is definitely a good reason that the community would feel excited and revved up.

3. Inexpensive energy source.
If you think your energy bill is high, think about how much more expensive it will be if coal is non-existent. Remember that coal provides the electricity, and is also used in the manufacture of refrigerator and freezer that ensures preservation of perishable food. If coal was not available, such luxuries would not exist.

It is cheaper compared to other fossil fuels for a variety reasons. First off, coal extraction is not difficult, whether it is mined on the surface or underground. Between opencast mining (surface) and deep mining (underground), the former recovers 90% or more of the coal compared to the latter, which basically means that miners do not have to go deep in the earth all the time. They just need large heavy equipment and explosives to expose the coal seams. It is also safe to store and easy to burn which, by the way, produces by-products that are useful for other industries or products.

Transportation of coal is also easier and cheaper. Unlike oil, it does not go through high pressure pipelines that require expensive upkeep. The abundance of coal also means extra security is unnecessary when it is being transported from one area to the next. Generation facilities also need low capital investment to get started.

4. Plenty of applications.
As already mentioned, coal is very versatile, not just for electricity generation. Even its by-products have amazing uses. Refined coal tar, for example, is used to produce phenol, creosote oil, naphthalene and other chemicals. Aspirin, soap, dyes and fabrics also make use of coal’s by-products. Coal itself is also used on specialist products, including activated carbon that is used to manufacture water filters, air purifiers and kidney dialysis machines. Carbon fiber and silicon metal also use coal as an essential ingredient. Everyone who knows the purpose of such materials knows just how important the role coal plays. Shampoos and toothpaste would not be the same without them.

5. Independent of the weather.
The only time that coal mining may be halted is when the site is declared dangerous or inoperable. But if it is just rain or strong winds, work would still continue and power plants will remain in operation. This means a continuous supply of electricity. If domestic and commercial establishments were to rely on wind turbines, solar panels, or hydro-energy sources, the availability of power would depend on existing climatic conditions. Companies cannot afford to shut their operation down simply because the sun would not come out, or that winds are not blowing hard enough to turn windmills.

6. Reduce dependence on oil.
In President Obama’s address entitled “Energy Security Can Only Come If We Invest in Cleaner Fuels and Greater Efficiency”, he emphasized on energy security, which can be achieved by reducing dependency on foreign oil, a reality that is considered a national security risk since they are sourced from nations with unstable political regimes. But the better solution would be energy independency that coal can help deliver, especially now that electric cars are growing in popularity. Since they only need to be recharged, dependency on foreign oil can be cut by a third by 2025.

Moreover, there are no governing bodies, like OPEC, involved in coal mining and productions, so there are no politics involved and no one will dictate the terms of its operation. Although there are rules and regulations that need to be followed, no one or two nations have a chokehold on coal mining.

List of Disadvantages of Coal

1. Environmental impact.
Burning coal may produce useful by-products, but it can also emit harmful wastes, such as carbon dioxide, sulfuric acid, arsenic, ash, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide. Emissions of CO2 from coal burning also accounts for the additional 65% of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, increasing greenhouse gases. To anyone’s books, this means climate change and global warming. The pollution it causes has also led to acid rain in some areas. Although there are a lot of causes of acid rain, burning coal is a major contributor because it releases sulfur dioxide, and acid rain has higher than normal amounts of sulfuric and nitric acid.

Newer coal plants, however, now emits 40% less CO2, according to the World Coal Institute. But this is still far from being able to repair whatever damage older plants have made. This is probably why Norway plans to sell off many of its coal-related investments as a means to curtail climate change.

2. Coal mining impact.
Remember that coal seams are surrounded by plants, rivers and other natural landscapes, and digging for coal would mean destroying forest areas that serves as wildlife habitat. There is little doubt that the ecosystem and biodiversity would take a beating. The process also results in water, soil and air pollution, thus the acid rain. The noise coming from large mining equipment can also hurt local wildlife.

Transporting coal would also require an extensive transportation system that is likely to pass through mountains, valleys, etc. Building such infrastructure would not only destroy the landscape, but also increases pollution due to emissions from various vehicles.

Over the past 25 years, however, U.S. coal operations have already reclaimed over 2.3 million acres of land mined. The U.S. coal mines, since 1978, have also paid over $7 billion to reclaim mined lands that have been abandoned. The move was even done long before laws for reclamation was passed. But would the ruin landscapes ever fully recover? One thing is for sure, they will never be the same.

3. Impact on miners’ health.
Even before a coal miner gets sick due to inhalation of fumes and the like, they are at risk of being buried deep in the earth. Underground mining, after all, is prone to cave-ins and explosions. But the real risk is on the miners’ health and those of the people living close to the dig areas. In fact, between 50,000 and 130,000 people are displaced once a coal mine opens up. Constant exposure to harmful chemicals can lead to respiratory diseases, lung cancer, black lung due to coal dust, congestive heart failure, nervous system damage due to mercury, and low-birth weight. Because emissions and particulates from coal mining can also degrade and soil buildings, human health is also inadvertently affected.

When acid rain becomes prevalent, it can also lead to more problems even to people who are far from the coal mines. After all, coal dust and other hazardous substances can be carried through the winds, polluting everything in their path.