Coal as Culprit

Sea Levels/Marina del Rey,
Sea Levels/Marina del Rey,

Some of you may recognize this Google map of Marina del Rey in Southern California. It has a blue overlay to demonstrate what would happen with a 5 meter rise in sea levels.

According to the advocacy group Architecture 2030, Home Depot is planting 300,000 trees in cities across the US to help absorb carbon dioxide emissions… The CO2 emissions from only one medium-sized (500 MW) coal-fired power plant, in just 10 days of operation, will negate this entire effort. Similarly, “if every household in the US were to replace one incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent (CFL), the CO2 emissions from just two medium-sized coal-fired power plants each year would negate this entire effort.”

The group has developed and paid for a large advertisement in today’s New York Times and they will be carrying it throughout the week in other venues as well. This is an enormous push back against building or putting into operation any new coal plants in the country.

Why coal? Many might think that our SUV culture is mostly responsible for US carbon emissions; actually it is the so-called “built environment”. According to Architecture 2030

“Buildings use 76% of all the electrical energy produced at coal plants.Buildings are the single largest contributor to global warming, accounting for almost half (48%) of total annual US energy consumption and CO2 emissions.”

Read the ad and see the logic for yourself. Coal is not the “cheaper” alternative to buying foreign oil. It carries a very high price.

Weatherman Calls Warming a Scam

John Coleman, the founder of the Weather Channel made the news rounds when he wrote an article the other day:

“It is the greatest scam in history. I am amazed, appalled and highly offended by it. Global Warming; It is a SCAM. Some dastardly scientists with environmental and political motives manipulated long term scientific data to create an illusion of rapid global warming.”

In short, global warming is a hoax cooked up by scientists to garner themselves huge research grants. I’m not going to argue with John; some would say simply ignore such rantings. Or, as Jay Leno says: “My thing with the green situation is: Even if you don’t believe in global warming, don’t you want to screw the oil company or gas company or utility company?”

My curiousity is piqued, however, about just why there is such a vociferous backlash to something that is rapidly moving mainstream. Clearly, we don’t know everything; some of the prognosticators and their predictions will be shown to be wrong, but so much of the thinking, speaking and writing on climate change makes a certain sense. Or am I just being brainwashed?

Yesterday I read the entire text of James Hansen’s recent testimony before the Iowa State Utilities Board. He was an expert witness to argue against a new coal plant opening up. I did skim the technical parts but overall I found his arguments very convincing.

He holds some rather radical ideas, one being that an immediate moratorium on coal plants (any that do not carbon sequester, or recapture released emissions) is necessary before “feedbacks” resulting from the release of CO2 emissions will cause an acceleration of climate change impacts (somewhat like my earlier discussion of tipping points) and that developing countries with increasing coal use, such as China and India, should be given 10 years before they should be required to curb their coal plant emissions, mainly because cumulatively, we (US, Canada and Europe) have been responsible for the most CO2 emissions over time–regardless of the fact that China’s current emissions now surpass those of the US. This sounds tremendously fair and his calculations bear out his sense that the planet can handle that along with increased efficiencies, etc.

The public policy and politics of all of this is tremendously complex and we all need to pay attention and educate ourselves. I hope to help through this blog. But back to the Grand Disagreement.

Hansen concludes his testimony with this personal observation:

“Based on experience, I believe that the difficulty in communication about global warming and the lack of success in obtaining actions needed to reduce global warming are, at least in part, a consequence of the role of special interests
who seem to place inordinate priority on short-term profits. Although global warming has received much attention of late, there remains a large gap between what is understood by the relevant scientific community and what is known by those who need to know, the public and policy-makers. I find it puzzling that conservatives, and I consider myself to be a moderate conservative, are not more concerned about preserving creation…”

So…global warming is a hoax to tap into lucrative research grants and… special interests are spreading disinformation and disbelief to protect their short-term profits. Enough already.

The Last Year of the Catalog

It’s that season again and the mailbox is filling with oh so many offerings of this sale and that, cajoling, enticing me to buy soon and early and get free shipping and get a free one if I only send one.

I won’t harangue you about how many trees were consumed in creating these catalogs or how much carbon is being spewed into the air just delivering them to every American mailbox. But has it occurred to you that these consumption instigators are simply becoming irrelevant? Not one of these businesses would be caught dead without a full-fledged website sporting a full online display of every item in their catalog!

I used to refer to that pile of Christmas catalogs as my “idea” pile; this year the stack will become my more aptly named “funeral” pile. I am saving them to enter, one by one, into Catalog Choice to put an end to their endless distribution in my direction. Within 10 weeks of such action, according to this service, I will no longer receive them. Consider this my vote.