November 13, 2008

New Satellite Image of Brown Clouds over China

Pardon this off-topic post. I have coal-fired plants on the brain and am feeling hopelessly frustrated.

Before going to bed last night, I read an article in Time about activists protesting the construction of a new coal-fired plant in Virginia—which will emit 5.3 million more tons of carbon dioxide into the air every year. (A 2007 report from the U.S. Department of Energy listed 151 new plants in the planning stages.)  I then awoke this morning to see this awful image in the New York Times of brown smog clouds above China, which has been building two coal plants every week.

What we seem to be tortoise-slow at understanding—or we would've acted much faster; we always do when something directly affects us—is that CO2 sucks for our health. From the Times article, "U.N Sees New Pollutant Threat":

"For those who breathe the toxic mix, the impact can be deadly. Henning Rodhe, a professor of chemical meteorology at Stockholm University, estimates that 340,000 people in China and India die each year from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases that can be traced to the emissions from coal-burning factories, diesel trucks and kitchen stoves fueled by twigs."

"'The impacts on health alone is a reason to reduce these brown clouds,' he said, adding that in China, about 3.6 percent of the nation's annual gross domestic product, or $82 billion, is lost to the health effects of pollution."

Yes, the world's population is out-of-control and there's a massive demand for cheap energy. But I'm still shocked that new coal-fired plants—the dirtiest, worst polluters—continue to be built and that we've moved so slowly to mandate cleaner alternatives.

Having a new president and, hopefully, an administration, who don't pork-barrel with the energy industry should help enormously. But everyone must be a little anti-coal activist. Use natural sunlight during the day. Turn off your computer at night.  Don't buy the McMansion.  Turn down the thermostat a couple degrees. Incentive: You'll save money on your energy bill and will have more hydrated skin and hair this winter. Thanks for your help.

To learn more about the construction of coal plants in your area, visit here.


Anonymous said...

It's not actually CO2 that causes all these diseases. To quote from the original article 'A noxious cocktail of soot, smog and toxic chemicals' is the cause. And obviously coal is not the cleanest source of energy, so it contributes to these problems as well as producing lots of CO2.

Lindsay B. said...

Appreciate the comment! I feel like when I write posts that stray from beauty, some readers inwardly grumble.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the link to Stopping the Coal Rush.