I was recently made aware of an Anti-Coal group on Facebook. It’s not my first encounter with the anti-coal movement. I’ve seen live protests by peace organizations and wondered what coal had to do with the organizations normal anti-war message. I still wonder. Our coal mining, to my knowledge, is not causing any wars.
I’m off topic a little. My main topic is the idiocy in protesting coal power.
The facts are ridiculously simple at first glance; simple enough for any fool to jump on as deserving protest. Coal is not clean, despite the scubbing technologies and the new marketing trends to label it as “Clean Coal.” Coal results in more CO2 per kilowatt than any other power plant fuel. Coal often involves sending people below the surface of the Earth to recover the coal and this has several inherent dangers, of which cave-ins are the most spectacular, mine fires are not a fun idea either. Less fantastic are the health concerns of long term exposure to mine conditions.
That’s the bad. It’s simple to understand how simple people will stop there and initiate the process of disliking coal power to the point of protesting it.
I’m firmly of the opinion that any stance that is “Anti-” is lacking. Don’t be Anti-War, be Pro-Peace. Don’t be anti-reality-TV, be pro-sitcom. Don’t be anti-bubblegum, be pro-chocolate.
The problem with an “Anti” stance is the shortsightedness. Don’t be anti-coal, be pro-nuke or pro-wind, or even just pro-renewable energy. Don’t waste your energy trying to end coal. Put the efforts towards supporting the alternatives. With enough support, the alternative energy sources will supplant coal, rendering that black rock obsolete. Anyone putting their effort into the anti-coal is not helping their cause. People supporting the wind-power industry, the solar power industry and the nuclear power industry are working hard to end the need for coal.
And there is a need for coal. Without coal we would have to run our country on half as much electricity. Aside from the obvious job losses in the coal mines and the railroads, the increased costs of power would negate the need for millions of jobs across the country.
If we follow our current course in exploring alternative power sources, the jobs that currently extract coal from the Earth and burning it will be replaced by jobs maintaining mirrors in solar plants and the turbines on wind farms.
If we stop more abruptly than that, those miners, whose health the protesters like to take up as a cause, would be out of work in parts of the country where there is simply no other industry to take up the workforce. Coal Miners are glad to have their jobs and know of the risks.
Enlightened, we can now look at the more important facts:
There is no power source ready to take up the slack if we stop using coal.
Coal mining conditions are safer now than they have ever been in the past and getting safer every day.
Coal burning is cleaner than it’s ever been and getting cleaner everyday.
The world runs on money and coal is cheap. Make something else cheaper and coal ceases to be a problem.
Again. Don’t be anti-coal. Be Pro an alternative.
Just to nip the idea in the bud, being pro-clean-air is insufficient to justify an attack on coal without spending the same effort on gasoline fueled cars.
Here is the thing that anyone supporting the anti-coal movement should have done before picking up a picket sign or forwarding an internet link: Disconnect from the power grid. Ideally this would be after installing solar panels or backyard turbines, but I’d have to respect anyone who simply stopped using electricity in protest of coal. For those who’ve elected to claim the pro-clean-air stance to cover their anti-coal sentiments, make sure to ditch recycle that gasoline automobile.
Anything short of that is like spit roasting a pig at the vegetarian picnic.
Until you’ve done your part to reduce the need for coal, don’t tell me how I should. But if you want to extoll the benefits of solar power or wind turbine power, I’ll understand if your home upgrades are still a work in progress.
I’ll say this: I am pro-wind power and pro-solar power and pro-nuclear power as long as the plant isn’t on a fault line or in range of tsunamis. In support of this view, I urge all of you to do a little research and see if there are wind or solar options you could utilize to reduce your dependence on the grid.