31 Dec 2011, 12:01am

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    Brighter Planet's 350 Challenge
  • Year 2, Month 12, Day 31: A Gloomy Old Soul…

    The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Business section runs an article on the status of Big Coal in the region:

    The coal called “king” in this region, an acknowledgment of its presence and power, sometimes seems in danger of facing a coup.

    Just in the past week, federal agencies announced stricter regulations on pollution for coal-fired plants, with even former Pittsburgh Steeler Jerome Bettis filming commercials to strong-arm legislators into passing the restrictions.

    Add into the mix a natural gas boom that’s overwhelming the region and its lawmakers. Then there are the alternative options such as nuclear and wind energy that have won endorsements from the White House.

    With the pressure coming from all sides, the monarchy appears threatened.

    But a look at coal’s ever-overpowering numbers suggests a different narrative and proves the black rock remains as much a local institution as the football team for which Mr. Bettis once lined up in the backfield. The state still contains so much coal that it produces more power than its citizens and businesses need, with the extra used to light major metropolitan zones along the heavily populated East Coast.

    Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette! Sent December 27:

    When two realities collide, they can do a lot of damage. The slow-motion catastrophe of climate change is bringing us more extreme and unpredictable weather; naysayers find it increasingly difficult to reject the climatological evidence that humanity’s overconsumption of fossil fuels poses a deadly danger to the planet. That’s one reality.

    On the other hand, America’s economy is understood to depend on plentiful cheap energy, which means, more than anything, coal. That’s another reality.

    Representatives of the industry hold economic growth as a top priority, and call environmentalists “unrealistic” for decrying the link between burning black rock and burgeoning greenhouse effect. However, the reverse is equally true: by denying or covering up scientific evidence and analyses that could impact their profit margins, coal companies reject the reality of their product’s toxic consequences.

    Ultimately, the laws of physics and chemistry will win; they always do. Will human beings be the losers?

    Warren Senders

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