Sunday, December 7, 2008

Impossible Not To Notice

Meet the Press is one of my personal favorite ways to spend a Sunday morning. Although I do not consider myself highly politically motivated, it is still important to me to watch how the people running our country respond to pointed questions that in other circumstances they may not want to answer. Tim Russert was my favorite host of this show because he was tough and relentless. After he passed away last summer and they brought in recently retired Tom Brokaw, replaced by Brian Williams on the Nightly News, to temporarily fill in I thought it was a fine choice.

This morning the televised interview was one that Tom recorded yesterday in Chicago where he interviewed President Elect Barack Obama. The interview was well put together with excellent questions as well as brilliant follow ups and there were times that Tom appeared to put a bit of the hammer down on Barack, such as the time frame for the middle class tax cut now that things have changed, economically speaking, so much since his campaign, or when it comes to his smoking. Like I said, the interview was good but that is not at all what struck me over the course of the hour long program. For the first time I paid more attention to the commercials than the program I was watching.

I wish I had counted because it would be a safe estimate to state that approximately 75% of the televised support was from companies or organizations promoting the environment.


There were some old standby ads such as those offered by Exxon Mobil for fuel efficiency or a spot or two of the NBC standard “The More You Know” but one commercial in particular, shown near the beginning of the program, struck me so positively that I actually remembered the website without writing it down.

That site is called This Is Reality.

The commercial is shown immediately upon clicking on the site so speakers are in order and what we hear is a gentleman telling all of us he is entering a new clean coal facility. He walks through the door and we see him suddenly standing in the middle of the desert. The end of the commercial flashes one simple sentence on the screen:

In reality, there is no such thing as clean coal.

Halleluiah! With all the mind boggling confusion over this extremely sensitive issue it is great to see someone finally putting the truth right out there.

The reason that coal is not a clean energy resource is complicated. Mining it involves disruption to the Earth itself -- destruction of mountains -- and because of the location anything left behind, missed or forgotten can enter run off rain, ending up in our waterways. The coal itself is a dirty substance as it is essentially a rock created from biodegraded plants preserved in earth and water. Burning this substance will release CO² emission, better known as greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. If power plants were able to capture those emissions prior to their release (known as carbon capture and sequestration or CSS) it would create a system where coal could in fact be burned more cleanly but still there is no way to be 100% “clean” when it comes to coal.

Sadly, not a single plant in the United States has put into place a way to capture the gas or address the other environmental challenges presented with ecologically responsible coal mining. The coal we burn is about as far from clean as we can get. Not to mention that since coal is a fossil fuel source it will eventually run out. So what is the alternative to burning coal since it is the number one leading resource for creation of electricity in this country?

Renewable resources such as wind, solar or hydro power can replace the dirty, dangerous business of coal mining and burning. These are areas where efforts in this country could truly make a world of difference and This Is Reality has reminded me today of why we should all look into those resources to keep our planet strong.

I am granting This Is Reality a Four Leaf rating for its information, desire to get it out there and courage to tell the truth.


Anonymous said...

YES! Clean coal is just about the biggest oxymoron I can think of...

Thank you for your post.

Rosebud Collection said...

Oh my, we use our coal stove sometimes..It may not be the greatest, but gives us wonderful heat..

High Desert Diva said...

Clean coal is such an oxymoron. Hooray for reality!