Climate scientists warn of coal threat —is Obama listening?

Researchers meeting at the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco said liquefied coal could ultimately have a greater impact on global climate than oil, as it starts to come on line in response to shrinking petrol reserves. “Oil and gas…don’t have enough carbon to keep us in the dangerous zone for very long by themselves, but that’s assuming we do something about coal,” said Pushker Kharecha, a researcher for NASA and Columbia University. Coal is the most abundant fossil fuel, and liquefied coal releases 40% more carbon dioxide than oil when burned.

In 2007, Illinois’ Sen. Barack Obama and Kentucky Republican Jim Bunning introduced legislation that would set the stage for large-scale production of transportation fuels from coal. Bunning and Obama both come from state with large coal reserves. (Reuters, Dec. 19)

On the campaign trail, both Obama and John McCain repeatedly expressed support for “clean coal”—along with the other requisite oxymoron “safe nuclear power.”

See our last posts on global climate destabilization and the struggle for the world’s hydrocarbons.

World War 4 Report. Use it or lose it:

  1. So much for “clean coal”…
    From the New York Times, Dec. 27:

    Tennessee Ash Flood Larger Than Initial Estimate
    A coal ash spill in eastern Tennessee that experts were already calling the largest environmental disaster of its kind in the United States is more than three times as large as initially estimated, according to an updated survey by the Tennessee Valley Authority.

    Officials at the authority initially said that about 1.7 million cubic yards of wet coal ash had spilled when the earthen retaining wall of an ash pond at the Kingston Fossil Plant, about 40 miles west of Knoxville, gave way on Monday. But on Thursday they released the results of an aerial survey that showed the actual amount was 5.4 million cubic yards, or enough to flood more than 3,000 acres one foot deep.

    The amount now said to have been spilled is larger than the amount the authority initially said was in the pond, 2.6 million cubic yards.

    A test of river water near the spill showed elevated levels of lead and thallium, which can cause birth defects and nervous and reproductive system disorders, said John Moulton, a spokesman for the T.V.A., which owns the electrical generating plant, one of the authority’s largest.

    Mr. Moulton said Friday that the levels exceeded safety limits for drinking water, but that both metals were filtered out by water treatment processes.

    Mercury and arsenic, he said, were “barely detectable” in the samples.

    We will forgive the locals if they are not comforted.