Green coal? I don’t think so

Coal, no matter how “clean” it might be, is not the answer to solving global warming issues.

Chelsey Perkins

While perusing the limited TV channels that come in with having rabbit ears, I stopped on a General Electric commercial about coal. The ad intended to leave me with a warm, fuzzy feeling about GE’s commitment to the environment, but actually left me fuming. In the spirit of the Republican Party’s favorite tool, Orwellian language, GE told consumers about the “clean coal” technologies they have been “eco-magining,” loosely employing the word “green.”

There are no specific emission limits as to what is considered “clean coal,” which means the term can literally be applied to any coal. The burning of clean coal is purported as a solution to global warming, because it allows the carbon dioxide emitted from the burning coal to be captured before entering the atmosphere.

I don’t know about any of you, but burning any coal – which is carbon – just does not sound like a solution to our global warming problem. And if I remember correctly from my days of watching “Beakman’s World,” everything’s got to go somewhere. If the carbon dioxide emissions are captured, they are not just going to disappear. So where do they go?

Even if clean coal could potentially make a difference in the amount of carbon emitted into our atmosphere, it is not expected to be widely available until 2025, which, according to most scientists’ predictions, is almost too late to reverse the damage we have caused.

As the price of natural gas continues to increase, energy is now increasingly generated by coal, which produces twice the amount of greenhouse gas emissions than natural gas.

With around 150 coal-fired power plants slated for building, three that will be in the United States, I don’t think coal will be going anywhere anytime soon. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, in 2006, the coal-mining industry donated nearly $2.5 million to political candidates, 85 percent of which were members of the Republican Party. Over $7 million was spent in lobbying efforts in 2006, and in 2007 so far, over $3 million has gone toward lobbying.

Obviously, as any industry, the coal industry does not want to lose money by having to comply to regulations, much less dissolve entirely, as would most likely happen if we really got serious about global warming. So the best bet is to saddle up to the big-business friendly Republican Party and spread the word that coal is the answer.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, even if we do not think that the major effects of global warming will be experienced by our generation, it is so important to think about future generations. I hate to break it to you, but without an environment that sustains us, humans cannot exist.

Three years ago, National Geographic printed an article that predicted that at the rate of Arctic ice melt we are experiencing, U.S. coastal areas would be flooded by 2099. I sure hope that some General Electric bigwig’s great-grandson is not washed out of the Florida Keys vacation home he bought with his trust fund.

Chelsey Perkins welcomes your comments at [email protected]