Saturday, September 22, 2007

Being opposed to carbon emissions

While there is some healthy skepticism about climate change...the climate is changing. Even if it's not changing on a epoch meaning upswing from the last ice age or the one before that, things are heating up at least in the current period of the last century. Perhaps humanity isn't the number one cause or perhaps there is no stopping it given the positive feedback nature of the CO2 to temperature. However it doesn't mean the climate change debate ends and everyone should panic and start burning skeptics at the stake. It needs to remain a scientific debate even if at the end of the day humanity takes action one way or another.

But...believe it or not, I'm not posting this about climate change at all. Rather, about something more immediate and certainly deadly and that's the kind of carbon emissions that are occurring and why it's unhealthy now.

I don't think the climate change debate is useless but there are more immediate concerns. Coal is the largest concentration of carbon emissions there is. Coal burning for electrical energy and steel production is the largest single emitter of particles (soot) and heavy metals around: uranium, thorium, mercury and other nasties.

The costs in health and clean up (after dumping) of these pollutants is never calculated into the cost of burning coal, where as nuclear has to account for everything from mining to final decommissioning and waste disposal.

Coal in the US may, according to the NIH, kill upward of 40,000 people per year. This is just from respiratory problems. It does not include the effects of the heavy metal content of coal ash which is spread all over the country in roads, concrete, and just laying around dumps near coal plants.

Coal kills now and, it is only going to get worse. "Clean Coal" is a marketing strategy by the coal industry. It only knocks down some of the pollutants, not all. CO2 emissions are only slightly brought under control. Costs for "Clean Coal" is above that of nuclear. Add the carbon tax and it becomes prohibitively expensive.

Most "Greens"…do not seem to care about any of this. Yes, they honestly do oppose the use of coal but they put no serious plan ahead that can either pay for alternatives for coal or plan any serious campaigns against it. No, the only really plan against nuclear energy, the safest, least polluting form of energy around. This is quite serious. The Greens campaign against what is arguable the lowest carbon emitter there is. Why do I say this?

In Germany, the origin of the Green political movement, is in power. They are part of the German gov't. They moved to "phase out" Nuclear and in it's place they are building 26 COAL plants to make up for the massive shortfall in electricity as a result. Wind and certainly solar can't replace the almost 20,000 MWs of power generated from Germany's cheap and clean nuclear plants, so, they are building coal fired plants to replace the power. This is a reactionary political stance by the German Greens. There are only two solution to coal after all alternatives and efficiency changes have been made: natural gas and nuclear. The Greens have chosen not to eliminate coal, but to eliminate nuclear. This needs to be fought by everyone concerned with the future of humanity.

There needs to be a broad based, left, pro-nuclear movement built here in the US and in Germany to get rid of coal, replace it with nuclear energy.

David Walters