photo credit : jo
Too Painful To Watch
by Jo Abbess
21st December 2008
"They still do that ?" asked my osteopath, mid-crack. "Yes", I lamented, "We're still burning coal to make power, in remote plants, the most wasteful and dirty thing you can do."
It really is too painful to watch, and I don't mean the spine manipulation. I mean the Coal-enabled light juice making. It's like being forced to watch a car crash in slow motion, with your hands, and maybe feet, if you're that flexible, tied behind your back, with no way of stopping the dreadful eventuality.
Coal, Nature's own once permanent and tidy sequestration of Carbon, being raked up and torched. All so that people can squander power to do things like watch people faking some heightened emotion whilst performing some form of massage, on cable television, say.
Base instincts aside, what can be driving the Power Industry and the peppy young dapper Mr Ed Miliband in their drive for Coal ?
On the occasion of his congratulatory obligation to speak in the House of Commons on the occasion of his "election" to the post of Secretary of State for the newly hatched Department for Energy and Climate Change, I noticed that poor Ed had a stinking, streaming cold.
Well, everyone in the known Universe seemed to have a rather nasty cold that particular week, and yet there were still some brave stalwarts who braved their public Parliamentary workplace, even as they honked and snorted, even that little Sarah Teather girl MP, who had to wear a heavy shawl to stop herself being blown away by the force of her hacking respiratory infection. She needs looking after, I ruminated. Although I'm not a sheep.
Anyway, back to the Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP. BBC Parliament afforded me a wonderful opportunity to size up the man's phlegmatism during his welcome to the House. Colin Challen MP afforded him praise and congratulations. Colin, you remember, has worked tirelessly to make Climate Change a real political issue.
Colin Challen MP. Have you heard of him ? Ah, I thought not. Most people haven't. Not newsworthy enough. Well, I think he's newsworthy myself, but the mainstream media apparently do not.
Maybe that's because he's not Oxbridge, only Hull. Whereas that little Teather thing is Cambridge educated. And do you know what the word "education" actually means ? Probably only if you've studied Latin. And you'll probably have studied Latin only if you were being groomed for Oxford or Cambridge. But we'll leave education to another day, perhaps.
Back to the case in point : Mr Miliband junior. Let's read a little review of some of what took place :-
Government clashes with Tories over carbon capture
Energy and Climate Secretary Ed Miliband has defended the government's commitment to meeting its carbon emissions targets, as he came under fire in Parliament today.
As Energy and Climate Change questions in the House of Commons got under way, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate change Mr Miliband was challenged on the Severn Barrage and carbon capture and storage (CCS).
Mr Miliband was asked by opposition members to explain how the government's refusal to rule out building new coal power stations without CCS - or "dirty coal" as the Tories refer to it - was conducive to meeting government carbon emissions targets.
But Mr Miliband said that the government's "top priority" was to prevent a major blackout of energy supply and called the Tories' opposition to new coal "dogmatic".
What I think he actually said was that he himself was not "dogmatic" about Coal, trying to distance and differentiate himself from the Conservative Party opposition.
But I think he damn well should be dogmatic about Coal.
Coal has gotten us into most of this Climate Change mess. No amount of burning Coal can put that right.
Carbon Capture and Storage engineering technologies currently being pursued all rely on burning additional Coal at Coal-fired thermal electricity generation plants, and using that extra burn energy to capture and pump the Carbon Dioxide underground.
That Carbon Dioxide being the waste Greenhouse gas from burning the Coal. You end up burning something like 20% more coal, to optimally capture 90% of the emissions, and your chances of permanent storage are in the region of 75%. Added to that, given that the full range of the necessary technologies is not even on the engineering drawing board or the accountancy tables, there is a 100% risk of failure to complete.
It's a real case of Dr Seuss engineering. Impossible cantilevers, gravity-defying aqueducts and pathways, breaking the Laws of Physics at every turn, bubble and tread.
Coal is bad. Very bad. But it's not evil, just wrong. It's the wrong Energy source for the future. And although some people would have you believe there is a rich carpet of lignite stretching the whole way around the globe, in fact, Coal is finite. And supplies are stressed. And eventually, costs will be stressed too. And we know where that leads.
Coal is not a sustainable fuel for the future. And it's very likely to cause Climate Meltdown even if we just use it for a few short decades as a stop-gap to prevent the feared blackouts.
It's a "no" in my household. I should be the UK Supreme Nanny and just tell the Energy children a firm "no", and that should be that. My word should be final.
What causes Ed Miliband to keep Coal warming in his grate ? Ah, that would be the international technological policy position of the United Nations on Carbon Capture and Storage, and the European commitment to Carbon Capture and Storage. And the Chinese commitment to poisoning everybody with Coal so that we can all have uber-cheap sticky tinsel for Christmas. ( But it's all about Trade, isn't it, Mandy m'Lord Mandelson, not creating Real Lasting Value ? )
Ed Miliband MP, just like Roger Harrabin before him, and my osteopath too, needs an education.
The only option for Coal is to leave it in the ground.
I'm lifting my glass of Christmas cheer to the future health and well-being of my friend's baby Josiah, who had breathing problems shortly after birth, no doubt due to a variety of air pollutants, of which, worldwide, Coal and cars are amongst the worst contributors.
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