Monday, November 5, 2007

Energy: The Canary in the Coal Mine Has Died; Why Doesn’t Anyone Notice?

While packing my suitcase for a business trip to the Gulf Coast, I was watching the NBC "Today" show with Matt Lauer on a boat in the open waters of the Artic circle, Ann Curry in Antartica, Al Rokker at the equator, all telling us about the increased ice melt on the polar caps and the ten fold increase in temperatures over what scientists predicted ten years ago.
I watched Al Gore tell Meredith Viera about what we could do to turn global warming around and how many good paying jobs could be created by doing so...I then read news account predicting a worldwide 60 percent increase coal use over the next two months, causing a rising knot in my stomach.

No matter what we do in America this problem is global, not just national. China's massive industrial pollution takes five days to reach America. Our pollution takes only hours to reach Canada. Mexico's pollution takes just one day to reach us.

The canary in the mine has died but no one seems to take notice. Global warming is real and its effects are catastrophic in scope.

The law of unintended consequences is now in play with global warming and there is no way to accurately predict all that it may bring.

We already know some of the worst results, and they are chilling:

  • Atlanta's population of five million citizens will run out of fresh, potable drinking water next summer unless the drought breaks.
  • Small towns in Tennessee are now in water crisis situations—with tanker trucks bringing in drinking water.
We must reduce our output of greenhouse gas this decade, but according to the coal use prediction, we will more than double our use of coal for, principally, baseline electrical generation plants.
If this is the case, our research and development initiatives in the area of clean coal technology must redouble as well as increasing the use of nuclear, wind, water and geothermal (green power) power generation to reduce our reliance on greenhouse gas producing internal combustion steam generation.

And, we need political leaders who fully grasp and appreciate that we must have a foreign policy of engagement of not only our close military allies, but also our trade partners to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As labor leaders we must lobby the presidential front-runners into adopting an energy policy that includes a matrix of power generation including green energy sources.

So far, only John Edwards has publicly stated he opposes nuclear power. We need to talk to John and see if we can't change his mind. Being pro nuclear isn't anti-coal. Using the latest technology and continued R&D into improving coal technology, we can have both while meeting our increasing energy needs.

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