Coal in our atmospheric stockings

Posted on Thursday, March 22nd, 2007 at 12:41 pm by JTE

Or, how I learned to love global warming:

Global boom in coal power – and emissions

A Monitor analysis shows the potential for an extra 1.2 billion tons of carbon released into the atmosphere per year.

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Forget the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.” Disregard rising public concern over global warming. Ignore the Kyoto Protocol.

The world certainly is – at least when it comes to building new electric-power plants. In the past five years, it has been on a coal-fired binge, bringing new generators online at a rate of better than two per week. That has added some 1 billion tons of new carbon-dioxide emissions that humans pump into the atmosphere each year. Coal-fired power now accounts for nearly a third of human-generated global CO2 emissions.

So what does the future hold? An acceleration of the buildup, according to a Monitor analysis of power-industry data. Despite Kyoto limits on greenhouse gases, the analysis shows that nations will add enough coal-fired capacity in the next five years to create an extra 1.2 billion tons of CO2 per year.

Those accelerating the buildup are not the usual suspects.

[cont'd]

I’m pretty much on the fence about the value of the various carbon offset programs going on, but this is evidence that investments in renewable energy systems has some value. It’s more than realenvironmentik to acknowledge that the governments and people of the world are going to use more energy going forward than is now used, and if we can help make sure that an increasing–eventually reaching total–percentage of that energy comes from renewables, well, then, that’ll be helpful in reducing the severity of global warming. But it’s also a reminder that that much renewable energy is unbelievably challenging to achieve. Efficiency and conservation–those are going to be the methods that do the most good, no question.

Speaking of which, can’t afford to make your home more energy efficient and live in Windsor or Windham counties, Vermont? Check with SEVCA for weatherization assistance. (Elsewhere in Vermont: Central VT Community Action Council, Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity, BROC – Community Action in Southwestern Vermont, and Northeast Kingdom Community Action (from their website, it seems like NEKCA doesn’t do weatherization assistance, though they do have funds for emergency heating assistance, but it wouldn’t hurt to call and ask.) Outside Vermont? Here’s some useful links courtesy of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab; and the LIHEAP program administered through the federal Dept of Health and Human Services.

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