Coaltopia – Coal Industry Revival Backfires On Climate

Writing for High County News, Ray Ring reports on unusual opposition, from Wyoming to India, that coal-export schemes have ignited:

The opponents want thorough evaluations that weigh all the impacts, with public hearings around the Northwest that would give time to speakers like Kimberly Larson, a staffer for Climate Solutions, a Washington group that advocates for wind and solar power.

“The coal companies need a new market for their drug,” she says, “just like we saw with tobacco companies,” which emphasized overseas sales when health warnings and taxes eroded their U.S. customer base.

Industry, however, prefers narrow evaluations — a local hearing that only weighs the construction of a new dock, for instance. And industry is optimistic: In the last few weeks, a couple of companies leased additional Powder River Basin deposits — with their eyes fixed on Asia.

Writing for the Daily Kos, Matt Wuerker falls for coal industry deception (much deception comes from a difference in perception) and encourage readers, at least in the Pacific Northwest, to think likewise. There are two grievous errors in the thinking he promotes.

While criticizing the coal industry for using a local focus, the Daily Kos article, “Our Happy Future as a Coal Corridor,” also emphasizes a local focus that lessens the focus on the total impact upon life on the planet as we know it. A quick view of current economics, and the average reader would see the need to export coal to Asia.

The second grievous error relates to the first. Wuerker wants the Daily Kos reader to see such harm in being a coal industry “corridor.” This provides coal industry representatives an opportunity to respond that this worry is wrong because the coal is going elsewhere for burning — some place other than the Great Pacific Northwest — some place in Asia, where electric power plants suffer less harassment by the government about producing CO2 emissions than the coal industry has to worry about in our country. (Sarcastically italicized.)

Meanwhile, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere will rise again next month as it has since reporting started. Not just in the atmosphere in the Pacific Northwest, or wherever you are as you read this. The concentration reported in a frame on the right hand of this weblog front page is a global average. While it is a possible problem to transport the product through where you live to make money, it is not the major problem. The major problem is encouraging greater use of a product that, in the future, is leading to the end of life on this planet as we know it. Yes, one planet — this Kos critical post is avoiding a focus on Big China, other than repeating the cartoon. Instead, it attempts to ask readers to think critically about life on our planet.