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Seven australian scientists, three of whom have worked on the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), recently wrote a letter to coal-fired power plant operators asking them not just to clean up their act, but to essentially cease and desist. Their motivation was to, duh, save the planet and quit dillydallying about something that we know to be a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Just rip the band-aid off, as it were, and figure out how to live without coal, rather than hope someday someone will figure out how we can live with the dramatic changes expected from global warming.
The letter's authors realize that this will mean transitioning energy sources, and consumer demand, as well as, developing new jobs to cover the current coal workers that will be out of work. The change they said is both unavoidable and essential. Their only fudge room was to allow plants to operate if they have zero emissions, which currently the technology does not exist to accomodate, and carbon capture and storage is still too expensive and several years away.
Is this an impractical "Dear Santa" letter, asking way beyond what society and technology can provide, or is this just the kind of out of the box thinking we need? Currently, too many people are reliant on energy from coal-fired power plants and many feel that asking them to just down is simply impossible. Or is it? Would it be possible to put a timely/target on coal-fired power plants? What if we all agreed to start upgrading appliances and unplugging unessentials? What if we all agreed to simplify our lives - limit our 'net and boobtube surfing - in order to lower our energy needs? Or do we simply need to find another way to save the planet in order to preserve our lifestyles?
A recent Daily Camera article on a Boulder, CO coal plant talks about the option of converting coal plants to either be a hybrid plant, or to still operate just without the coal. One option is to use solar power at the plant instead, while another is to run the plant off of biomass. Plants in Hawaii, New Hampshire, Georgia and Wisconsin are all under consideration for conversion to biomass. Particularly for older plants, operators are finding that its more cost-effective to convert them to a cleaner system rather than try to upgrade and abide by current regulations. While there is a cost to conversion, and the energy produced is not as potent as coal, maybe the scientists were not so far off in saying coal needs to go and it needs to go now.
:The West Australian : Daily Camera
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