We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Time for Burning Coal Has Passed

Click here to access article by Claudia Ciobanu and Silvia Giannelli from Inter Press Service.
In Europe as a whole, coal has seen a minor resurgence over the past 2-3 years, despite the European Union having the stated goal to decarbonise by 2050 (out of all fossil fuels, lignite produces the most CO2 per unit of energy produced).

Access to cheap coal exports from the United States, relatively high gas prices, plus a low carbon price on the EU’s internal emissions trading market (caused in turn by a decrease in industrial output following the economic crisis) led to a temporary hike in coal usage. Yet experts are certain that coal in Europe is dying a slow death.
It's clear that these "experts" are either capitalist ruling class propaganda experts who want to give us false assurances or they are naive environmentalists whose views are informed only by a narrow logic without taking into consideration the enormous political-economic factors preventing any change from "business as usual". The latter people have the simple-minded belief that we can have the 800 pound gorilla (capitalism) with its unlimited appetite for energy and a planet that can sustain human life.
“In the longer term the prospects for coal-fired power generation are negative,” according to a July report by the Economist Intelligence Unit. “Air-quality regulations (in the European Union) will force plant closures, and renewable energy will continue to surge, while in general European energy demand will be weak. The recent mini-boom in coal-burning will prove an aberration.”

“Additional coal mines would not only be catastrophic for people, nature and climate – it would also be highly tragic, as beyond 2030, when existing coal mines will be exhausted, renewable energies will have made coal redundant,” says Anike Peters, climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace Germany.
Meanwhile, here in the Northwest region of the US, we are fighting against coal export terminals; but as a recent report out of Vancouver illustrates, it is a losing battle. Capitalism cannot function without relatively cheap fossil fuels to run its huge growth machine. Because capitalists reap so many benefits from their system, they are fanatically opposed to any changes in spite of all their rhetoric about "green energy" and promises of a future technological fix. Only working people, who suffer the most in other ways from this system, together with conscientious and informed people can save the planet for a future that can sustain human and many other life forms.