Ban Coal, Save the Earth

dirty coalI have recently described “the myth of 'Clean Coal' as “pernicious nonsense”; noting coal carbon sequestration [search] technologies are unproven and being used to delay coal plant bans, and that if the world's coal reserves of 3500 gigatonne of carbon are burnt “the planet will be several times past the concentration of carbon dioxide considered able to be adapted to safely.” Well there is finally some good news in EcoInternet's campaign to “Keep the Coal in the Ground“. NASA scientist James Hansen, one of the world's leading climate scientists, today “called for the United States to stop building coal-fired power plants and eventually bulldoze older generators that don't capture and bury greenhouse gases.” Meanwhile, TXU, a massive Texas-based utility planning to build 11 new coal plants, is likely to be bought by an equity group that promises to environmentalists to cancel much of their planned coal expansion. In response to intensifying grassroots anti-coal protests, the private-equity firms Texas Pacific Group and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts have agreed as part of the purchase to stop plans to build eight of the eleven new coal-fired power plants, not to propose new coal-fired plants outside Texas and to support mandatory national caps on emissions linked to global warming [more]. There is NO future for coal in post-industrial energy policy adequate to stabilize the global climate within inhabitable parameters.

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8 Responses

  1. John Dalhaus says:

    Thanks for the interesting post Glen. I couldn't agree more. And, it's not as if we don't have alternatives to coal. We just have to get past the false notion that these don't measure up to the energy provided by fossil fuels.

  2. Carlini says:

    Fascinating in-depth article on the recently announced UN stance on global warming from burning coal, and its unacceptable human consequences

  3. You are probably familiar with the coal fired power plants that are scheduled to be built in Nevada and Utah. This is much bigger than the power companies let on. Here are a number of very interesting points that are actually whole stories unto themselves.
    1. California has set a goal of 25% reduction of greenhouse emissions by 2020. Oregon, California, Washington, New Mexico, and Arizona have formed a regional pact to develop a similar target. Yet Nevada is headed in the opposite direction. Nevada, with these coal fired power plants, will double our emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020. If this trend continues, all that will happen is that urban areas will shift their smog to rural areas.
    2. The proposed Frontier power line that extends from White Pine County to Las Vegas actually extends from Wyoming to California

  4. phill Parsons says:

    In Australia, the latest Australian of the Year, Tim Flannery, has flagged avoiding dangerous climate change for a lead role in his year in the post. He also flagged coal as loosing its social acceptance as a power source.
    Bob Brown, Australian Senator and leader of The Greens said their election policy was to develop a plan to phase out the use of coal in power generation by 2010, for immediate
    implementation following that.
    The Greens do not favour leading the change to a low carbon economy through the unproved process of geosequestration.
    I understand Sweden, whilst phasing out nuclear power, is developing a low carbon energy future for itself.
    Now James Hansen of the Goddard Institute of Space Science suggests no new coal fired power plants for the US.
    Brown was described variously as loosing his grip on reality by the old political parties, the coal industry and the unions, including the description of 'barking mad'.
    Given the IPCC Assesssment and the Stern Review, reports that put the impacts and costs of further dangerous climate change into physical and economic perspective, how long before the clearly barking mad are seen to be President George W. Bush and Australian Prime Minister Howard along with those retaining faith
    in continuing coal use with unproved geosequestration leading their strategies when we have only several decades before we move from the current 430ppmv of CO2 equivalent past the upper threshold of what is believed to be manageable level of warming gases [550ppmv CO2 eq] into an unknown zone of global heating and the following impacts.
    Crrent rates of gas growth are averaging 2.2ppmv of CO2 and 2006 had, I believe, a growth of 2.9. If rates continue to ramp up to feed faster and faster growth then the timelines for the arrival of runaway heating will rapidly close in on us.
    All of those proposing to lead their plans to address climate change with unprooved technologies must be suffering from a similar madness to those who are barking their ignorance for any informed person to see, driven by the economies adddiction to coal and blinkered thinking.
    The changes from water and wind power that were engendered by the development of the steam engine and the commencement of the industrial revolution are now to be risked on an altar to consumption ignoring not only the premise in the idea behind the Limits to Growth [Brundtland] Report but in the basics of understanding of the operation of all systems.
    Even the sun will exhaust itself, consuming its fuel bilions of years of fuel.
    Besides failing to understand these inherent limits, many are completlely ignorant of what warming will mean.
    On the Austrlaian Broadcating Corporation program Lateline, when PM Howard was asked what a 4dC warming would mean he said “It would be a little less comfortable for some”.
    It is not such a leap to imagine Bush being caught with an ignorance rating that is below his underatanding of the consequences of his attack on Iraq.
    Unfortunately, I am of the view that try as we might and must, that it will require an event of the magnitude of the “Day After Tomorrow” in a location[s] of importance similar to New York to focus attention and action.
    Yes, its got to be worse than New Orleans or so obviously caiused by global heating that the reason for it and the action required to avoid it are undeniable.

  5. John Poxon says:

    Hi Glen,
    I wonder when someone is going to persuade our Prime Minister, Mr Howard, of the reality of what you are saying. Seems to me that he is determined to follow the 'clean coal' mirage regardless.
    Regards
    John

  6. Steven McHatten says:

    Isn't Asia polluting enough with thrie coal fired Energy Plants Now!
    This form of Energy needs to be banned to Protect The Global Enviromental Inpacts Here and Abroad.
    Our Planet will not and cannot survive.
    Peolple rtake notice of the mass devastation world wide.
    We need to come together and put the reigns on Global Warming!!

  7. Rick Spilsbury says:

    You are probably familiar with the coal fired power plants that are scheduled to be built in Nevada and Utah. This is much bigger than the power companies let on. Here are a number of very interesting points that are actually whole stories unto themselves.
    1.
    California has set a goal of 25% reduction of greenhouse emissions by 2020. Oregon, California, Washington, New Mexico, and Arizona have formed a regional pact to develop a similar target. Yet Nevada is headed in the opposite direction. Nevada, with these coal fired power plants, will double our emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020. If this trend continues, all that will happen is that urban areas will shift their smog to rural areas.
    2.
    The proposed Frontier power line that extends from White Pine County to Las Vegas actually extends from Wyoming to California

  8. When I had the opportunity recently to become violently ill from a stomach virus I knew that it was the bad cake I had eaten the evening before. However, no one else became ill from eating the cake, just me but it had to be the cake, didn't it? Well, no it didn't.
    We as human beings react to stimuli in an interesting and almost psychotic way. If we vomit, what we last ate must have caused it! What else could it have been?
    The virus I had quietly incubated for days prior to my becoming ill was the real culprit. But I was sure it was the cake I had eaten the previous night. The way some view climate change is very similar to this reaction. The weather is changing and we look for the easiest explanation for it to satisfy our hunger for answers. We need immediate answers to everything, even if those answers are not really accurate.
    If the weather is changing, it has to be caused by man! Doesn't it? No it really does not. If we all take a step (or ten) back from the sky is falling mentality of Al Gore, we might be able to slow down enough to make an educated decision. We may actually see other possibilities.
    Human beings thirst for answers. We have such an ingrained genetic desire to know everything, that even science and physics will alter itself to satisfy that need. Unanswered questions leave scientists with a feeling of inadequacy. Many scientists think they have answers to just about everything so naturally the remaining questions get sucked up into the vacuum of theory. For some less initiated into intellectual circles, these empirical notions can then twist into fact.
    My point; not all of what we see is fact. Not all of what we know is true.
    Today's Pillory guest: Reactionary Scientists, in it only for the grants.
    Dave

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