Farms see bigger harvests as coal pollution declines
570 million bushels. That’s how much additional corn, wheat, and soy farmers were able to harvest between 2005 and 2016, as nearby coal plants were decommissioned across the country, an amount equivalent to half a single year’s typical harvest. According to a feature in Anthropocene Magazine, new research has drawn a connection between higher crop yields and the ongoing transition away from coal-derived energy. Scientists suspect the link is due to air pollution: The gasses that electric coal facilities emit can have a “choking effect” on plants, reducing their ability to ward off pests and disease. Humans have benefited, too. Scientists also estimated that reduced coal-related air pollution saved about 26,610 lives in that same period.