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The Forum > Article Comments > Why Iíll get arrested to stop the burning of coal > Comments

Why Iíll get arrested to stop the burning of coal : Comments

By Bill McKibben, published 27/2/2009

The only hope of making the kind of change required is to really stick in peopleís minds a simple idea: coal is bad.

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Climatologist James Hansen points out that cutting coal use must be our main focus. Forget tree planting and similar cures as they will be too slow and unreliable. Meanwhile we shut our minds to the coal burning connection; not far from the Melbourne firestorms are some of the worlds dirtiest brown coal burning power stations. We also decline to admit Australia's huge coal exports could have any bearing on global emissions yet I believe that within a decade Australia may be one of the few countries left with any spare coal to export. As a uranium exporter we could call the shots by telling customers they can have uranium if they cut back on coal. So not only is Australia a poor example to the developing world but we are in a position to strongly influence global emissions.

Perversely we continue to build new coal export terminals and largely exempt the worst domestic emitters from the 2010 emissions trading scheme. That scheme has a pathetic target of 5% reductions by year 2020 relative to 2000. Meanwhile our largest river system dries up, firestorms decimate city fringes and the Great Barrier Reef has repeat episodes of coral bleaching until one day there is no recovery. That doesn't seem to be enough to make us rethink however.

As to the predicted world coal production peak around 2030 even if that only causes 2C warming we have had enough trouble with just 0.6C warming. Of course that coal fired warming might set off polar ice melt and frozen methane releases so it keeps going without human assistance. Therefore coal burning must be drastically slowed starting yesterday.
Posted by Taswegian, Friday, 27 February 2009 9:16:09 AM
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Something for our own nutters, with nothing to do on March 2, to copy from this American nutter.
Posted by Leigh, Friday, 27 February 2009 9:49:53 AM
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Mmm, thanks for the namecalling Leigh, very deep - you should write for the Herald Sun.
Posted by Liam, Friday, 27 February 2009 10:08:27 AM
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Coal is too dangerous to burn.
We should dig a big hole and throw it all in there.
Burying it is less dangerous and cheaper than capturing and burying CO2.
Dig it all up now and bury it to save the world.
Posted by undidly, Friday, 27 February 2009 11:51:29 AM
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Perhaps they are correct. My favourite "philosopher" asserts that we should rapidly wean ourselves off of our addiction to the carbon "economy".

Leigh Wendell Berry is not a nutter. He is deeply conservative in the REAL sense of the meanings of that work.

Neither is Bill McKibben for that matter.

CONSERVATIVE as distinct from the all of the right-wing shock-jocks and "conservative" newspaper hacks both here and in the USA---the adolescent yahoos and hooligans who wouldnt know their butts from a hole in the ground.

Berry is even sometimes claimed by those on the "right" of the culture wars as one of them---at least when it suits them.

His is writings are even praised and referenced in many right wing publications--both on paper and on the internet/blogoshere.

He wrote an essay The Idea of a Local Economy in response to Sept 11. And also a companion essay Thoughts in The Presence of Fear. Both of which had nothing in common with war-drum-thumping responses of those on the "right".

http://www.relocalize.net/node/4770

Berry's action described in this essay are in keeping with what he has been practising and advocating all of his life.
Posted by Ho Hum, Friday, 27 February 2009 12:52:16 PM
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The big losers are the people who own coal burning power plants.

Give a fiscal boost to the economy by giving companies who close a power plant a zero interest loan of an amount needed to be spent on a renewable energy plant that generates the same amount of energy as the coal plant. The companies repay the loan from the profit on the renewable energy plant.

Everyone wins. It helps solve the liquidity crisis. It compensates the power companies and it helps save the planet. It does not increase government debt because the companies have the loans.

At the same time give zero interest loans to any person or company who spends the money building infrastructure to make other non polluting use of coal - turn coal into animal feed?, plastics, paint etc.

This will take care of the coal companies as they will still have a market. You can give some of the zero interest loans to the poor in the population. They can sell the loans if they wish but the loans must be spent on non polluting ways to use coal.
Posted by Fickle Pickle, Friday, 27 February 2009 1:43:58 PM
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