Sunday, November 28, 2010



Since Climate Change – and its cause - remains a big divide, mostly along political ideologies, I thought I would take a different tack on this. Why? I’ve continued to come across many folks I know that do not consider this a topic of much importance or even REAL. There are many greater, more knowledgeable minds out there whose facts and figures hold no sway over the reasoning and concern of these people and others. While that is not only disturbing to me, it saddens me. I have, however, come to the conclusion that the “normal” scientific arguments aren’t working in too many cases. Why not come at it from a different perspective? Personally, I see no reason not to plow ahead on clean, renewable energy and want to give you some reasons – other than Climate Change concerns – to reject our dirty, dirty energy sources.

The major sources of energy for the industrialized nations are the following: Coal, Oil, and Natural Gas. I am going to deal with each of them on an individual basis.


Many years ago I visited a former college friend who works as an engineer in the coal industry. The first time he was living in the midst of Kentucky’s coal mining area. Have you ever visited an area where coal is mined? If you haven’t, I would recommend it, especially if you think there is such a thing as CLEAN COAL. You will quickly change your mind. Everything looks bleak and dirty. Coal dust permeates and covers nearly everything. It is a perpetually gray world.

Coal is mined two ways: underground mines and mountaintop removal. No doubt you are aware of recent coal mining accidents, in the US, Chile, New Zealand and China. The men who work in the mines more often than not die from Black Lung, from inhaling that coal dust day in and day out. They come home in black face, with their clothes and shoes covered in it. It’s a hard life and, usually, a short one. Sometimes, mining is the only job available the men in these areas. It’s difficult for generations to escape from this life, not unlike slavery.

Mountaintop removal involves planting explosives to actually blow off the top of a mountain, which destroys anything and everything that once lived there – plants and wildlife. This is done because it is easier for us humans to remove the coal deposits and it’s safer for the workers. Of course, those in the coal industry claim that once the coal has been extracted, they RESTORE the ecosystem. Let me ask you this: if your home blew up (without you, your family or your pets inside), do you think you could restore it? Even if you rebuilt to the exact specifications of your previous home, you lost many things that could NEVER be replaced. Things like treasured family photos, your favorite chair, dishes, pieces of clothing, high school yearbook, etc. Creation is not within the power of humans, only Re-creation, an attempt to remake something that has and will remain lost forever. Most of us can move on, but those losses will remain with us. If we had the option to turn back the clock and avoid the loss, how many of us would choose that option? The previous ecosystem that existed upon those mountaintops can never be reclaimed and neither can the lives that were lost.

What about the waste from coal mining? Where does it go? Of course, it goes into the air and the surrounding water. Some rivers and streams are filled with it intentionally by Big Coal. Most coal ash waste is dumped into slurry ponds. Some blows away but, once wet, it stands there and is filled and filled. In 2008 a slurry pond burst and released over a billion gallons of coal sludge. You can read more here:   Regulations on these ponds were weakened during the Bush Administration but, as we all know, even the best regulations aren’t always followed and inspections by regulatory agencies aren’t as stringent as they should be. Would you be more concerned about the health and safety of the people living near these areas if some of them were your family members or friends? Should anyone be exposed to toxic waste?

Here in Orlando our power plant, Curtis Stanton II, is a coal-fired plant. Our government regulates emissions from these plants – the Environmental Protection Agency. Of course this agency and its regulations are consistently under attack by many of our elected officials. What is being released into our air, how much is reaching our groundwater, how is the health of people and the surrounding ecosystem being affected? Emissions from coal-fired power plants include: sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, methane and mercury. Mercury in fish has been found to cause birth defects, which is why pregnant women are advised to avoid eating fish during their pregnancies. The particulates from these power plants end up in the water and then in the fish that live there. Maybe you don’t care about the fish or the other wildlife (like eagles, ospreys and pelicans) who eat them, but what about those developing fetuses in utero? You can find the most recent data on Curtis Stanton here:

To find out more about the coal industry, I recommend checking out this blog: Take a moment to read about the children in India who are working in the coal mines, or the people in Montgomery County, Illinois who are fighting against Longwall mining under their properties.


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