By Lily Spechler, The Vermont Cynic
It’s that time of year again: Christmas cheer is in the air. However, it seems we’ve got some bad, bad hombres in this country and as a result we all might be getting coal in our stockings. Thankfully, though, this coal is … clean?
There are two myths I would like to debunk: since we’re living in the information age and all. First off, Santa is not real. Sorry, that was harsh, but its about time the truth comes out. Second, there is no such thing as clean coal.
According to National Geographic Magazine, coal was the largest contributor to the record amount of carbon dioxide spewed into the atmosphere in 2012. Carbon dioxide, of course, is said to contribute to global climate change.
Clean coal is marginally less filthy coal. “Clean coal” is a band-aid, the crappy kind that doesn’t even really stick on in the shower. It is a very, very short term cover-up to a much larger problem that will only continue to grow if we do not address it.
I asked U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders vie e-mail what he thought about the idea of clean coal. Daniel McClean, a spokesman for Senator Sanders responded with this statement via e-mail:
“At a time when we should be aggressively transitioning away from fossil fuels toward sustainable energy, it does not make sense to waste millions of dollars on unproven technologies to try to keep coal alive.”
Are you starting to feel the Bern?
There are a few “clean coal” emerging technologies, such as “coal washing”, which removes some of the unwanted materials such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides before the coal is burned and carbon and other pollutants get released into the air as flue gas; Carbon is still being emitted during this process.
However, according to Kathleen Hartnett-White, this really shouldn’t be an issue.
Harnett-White is the director of the Armstrong Center for Energy and the Environment at the Texas Public Policy foundation, and the potential future leader of the Environmental Protection Agency according to our President-elect. To say the least, she has a very creative spin on the whole “climate change” thing.
“Carbon dioxide has no adverse impact in the air we breath at all,” Hartnett-White said. “It’s a harmless trace gas that is actually an essential nutrient for plants.”
Interesting, considering that the EPA currently states on its website that excess carbon dioxide, which is released from the burning of fossil fuels, makes up for 81% of greenhouse gases that are contributing to climate change.
Perhaps Harnett-White hasn’t done her research yet. Perhaps she should start by visiting the EPA’s website, where the current government consensus opinion on the impact of carbon emissions on the environment is stated and backed by scientific evidence. But that’s okay, she has plenty of time to brush up on the topic before she assumes her position.
Carbon capture and sequestration is another technology that claims “clean coal”. Proponents of CCS posit that carbon could be separated and captured during the burning process and stored in the earth instead of being released into the atmosphere.
To be fair, there is potential here, scientists have just begun to scratch the surface with this technology. However, according to Slate magazine, commercial CCS systems cost tens of billions of dollars, and won’t be practical for decades.
Furthermore, there is not enough research available currently to determine what the effects of pumping multitudes of carbon into the earth will be, but seismologists are skeptical, according to ThinkProgress, a progressive site.
Carbon is not even the only issue with coal. According to an article in Time Magazine, while the industry has “improved filters on coal plants” it still lives behind a growing toxic waste problem with pollutants like mercury and Sulfur dioxide.
But not to worry! At least Steve Bannon, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for chief strategist, will serve as the voice of reason. Oh, wait…
According to E&E news, an online media company that covers environmental and energy policy markets, Bannon said “… environmentalists are ‘greentards’ and ‘totally fu**ing wrong on climate change’”.
Or perhaps we can turn to Reince Priebus, incoming White House chief of staff. Priebus, help us please!
Nope. Priebus told Fox News that climate change denial would be Trump’s “default position.” At least now we’ll have a really huge wall to bang our heads on. Gracias, señor Trump.
Anyway, for all you “greentards” drafting your Christmas holiday wish lists this year, please consider including “sanity” or perhaps “justice” somewhere very near the top.
Happy holidays to all, and sorry about the whole Santa thing.