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Coal's heavy cost


Coal's heavy costs    The Boston Globe, august 2007.

Late in his presidency, George W. Bush finally brought himself to lament America's addiction to oil. But neither he or leading democratic politicians have ever rallied the United States to break its addiction to a more lethal form of energy: coal, which supplies half the nation's electricity.

This month, an accident in Utah entombed six miners. three more died trying to rescue them. Four days after the first accident, three coal miners plunged down a shaft to their deaths in an Indiana mine. In China, which has the world's worst coal-mining fatality record, 181 miners are trapped in a floaded mine shaft with little hope of survival. More than 2,000 Chinese coal miners have died in accidents this year.

Then there are the respiratory conditions, including asthma, that are made worse by the sulfur dioxde, nitrogen oxide, and fine particles emitted in coal's combustion. Coal-burning power plants are also the principal man-made source of the nerve-system poison mercury. Its buildup in many species of fish has caused the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to advise women of child-bearing age to limit consumption of that otherwise healthy source of protein. Despite such warnings, women in the United States face a 10-to-15 percent risk of bearing children with mercury levels high enough to slow their mental development.

In Appalachia, mining by mountaintop removal is changing the face of the earth. Coal burning is changing the climate of the earth. Of all the fossil fuels, coal emits the most CO2, the most common greenhouse gas. Fourty percent of America's total of carbon dioxide (CO2) comes from coal burning, mostly to produce electricity. (think of it when you plug your electric car in at night!) Gasifying coal before burning it makes it possible to capture and store CO2 emissions, but the proces raises the cost of the electricity produced and has yet to be tested at full scale. (Cheap-oil & coal technologies -bringing more and easy profit- thus prevent meaningful innovation and real progress!) In the meantime, utilities in the United States and elsewhere continue to build coal-fired plants without controls on CO2. Last year alone, China built more than 90 major coal-fired power plants. (even the Netherlands, one of the globe's most sophisticated countries will possibly build four more coal-fired power plants!)

legislation passed by the U.S. House that would force utilities to start getting more of their power from renewable sources face a uncertain future in the Senate. The United States cannot wean itself from coal overnight. But as Congress and all Americans chart the nation's energy future (and energy security!) , coal's environmental costs, especially its contribution to global warming, have to be factored into the equation. So do those accidents in Utah, Indiana and China.

In comparison to coal, no other energy solution - not wind, solar, nuclear, biomass or natural gas - takes as heavy a toll in lives and environmental destruction.

Compare with the position taken on this website: including the mental and moral destruction!

Exxon's global impact on climate change and world stability: video


 :++  State-corporate crime

Sudden Wealth Curse

10 months ago: Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, and the Netherland's Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, left, enter a hall for a signing of documents ceremony in the Moscow Kremlin, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2007, with Dutch gas company Nederlandse Gasunie NV President Marcel Kramer, right, in the background. Russian and Dutch officials signed an agreement Tuesday to include Dutch gas giant Nederlandse Gasunie NV in the Baltic Sea pipeline designed to bypass several European countries and ship Russian gas directly to Germany. 


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