Pan Appalachian Defender

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Cradle to the grave

by Chris Irwin

Everything in the forest is interconnected. This is true of all life. The processes that attack life are interconnected as well.
Climate change, strip mining and asthma are all interwoven. Coal ripped from the mountains of Appalachia is burned by utility companies like the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), and two side effects are drastic climate change on our planet, and our children and old people gasping for air.
This is an article covering the effects of strip mining from the cradle to the grave. The cradle is strip-mining, then I will address the effects of the air pollution from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and from there will follow to global warming (the grave).
Cradle (infancy)
I. Clear cutting and strip mining.
Strip mining
If you are reading the PAD then you understand some of the effects of strip mining. A few greedy energy corporations are blowing up highland watersheds to make money. Streams are running bright orange, entire mountainsides of forest are being clear-cut wholesale in advance of the blasting, and entire watersheds are being destroyed forever. One form of strip mining is called Mountain Top Removal, but have no illusions-- Mountain-side and Mountain-bottom strip mining are occurring in Tennessee as well. In Tennessee tourists are commenting in horror as they fly over sections of the Cumberland Plateau. In Tennessee the number one employer is tourism—mining isn’t even in the top 10. In Tennessee our mountains and forests are being destroyed forever. Over 14,133.4 acres of land is currently being strip-mined in Tennessee. The strip mining is undermining the number one employer in Tennessee, tourism. Tourists do not come to Tennessee to see bright orange streams, clear cuts and strip mines.
The coal that is being mined is used mainly in fossil (coal) steam plants. The coal is used to provide power for industry and people. We are all part of this cycle of destruction, and share in responsibility for what it is doing to our land and people. TVA is the largest purchaser of coal in the country. As such I am using TVA as an example but much of what is wrong with TVA can be applied to other coal utilities.
“Childhood”
II. Air Pollution
Coal fired plants/TVA
Burning coal pollutes the air, and we breathe that air. There are many health effects and consequences of coal steam plants and the resulting pollution. Acid rain, mercury contamination and direct water and soil pollution are also significant products of fossil fuel plants.
TVA is the nation’s largest utility. Knoxville Tennessee is the headquarters for TVA. I was born in Knoxville and it is my hometown. Let’s take a quick look at my hometown.
In 2004, the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America developed a list of top “asthma capitals” based on prevalence, mortality rates, air quality, smoking laws, and asthma medical care. Knoxville, Tennessee, was number one, followed by LittleRock, AR and St. Louis, MO.

CONT ON PAGE 8
(CONT)
My hometown, the head quarters of the largest purchaser of coal in North America, is number 1# in children’s Asthma. Knoxville is downwind of many TVA coal plants--one of which is the Kingston fossil plant. Is there a link between coal plants and the respiratory ailments in East Tennessee?
There are three common substances that are emitted from burning coal: Sulfur dioxide (SO2), and Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) and Carbon Dioxide (CO2).
Three that aren’t so commonly known are uranium, mercury and thorium. Using a Geiger counter. you can get above normal background radiation readings on some railroad tracks that are commonly used to haul coal. Burning coal emits toxins to our air. Some of these toxins are radioactive.
The following is a quick list of other by-products of burning coal from the TVA Kingston steam plant. These toxins are common to all coal fired steam plants--but I am going to list the amounts of these wastes that come from just one TVA coal plant.
This data is from the Toxics Release Inventory, is in pounds, and is just air emissions. Coal fired power plants also emit substantial wasted into our air and land. Coal fired plants are required by law to inform the public of their yearly emissions so you can research the specific amounts of any coal plant. Often the plants will provide a list on their websites. This list came directly from the Kingston fossil plant website.
Kingston Fossil Plant 2005 releases into the air-in pounds.
Arsenic-182 , Barium-1,504 ,Chromium-372, Cobalt-92, Copper-343, Lead-221, Manganese-550, Nickel-393, Selenium-8,933, Vanadium-335, Hydrochloric Acid-3,250,006, Zinc-1,262, Hydrogen Fluoride-451,906, Sulfuric Acid (aerosol)-781,830, and Ammonia-28,462.
For 2005 this one coal plant released over 4,526,916 pounds of pollution into the air upwind of Knoxville. TVA has 13 coal fired power plants.
If you are reading this downwind of a coal plant, these substances are dumped into the air that you and your children breathe.
Mercury is believed to cause mental retardation in children whose mothers are exposed to the toxin, primarily through consumption of fish. Mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants are deposited in lakes and rivers, where they enter the food chain.
Sulfur dioxide (SO2) and oxides of nitrogen (NOX) pollution particulate pollution is a mixture of soot, smoke, and tiny particles formed in the atmosphere. Sooty particles are most dangerous when very small as they can penetrate deep into the lungs (and the lungs are not effectively able to expel them), where they cause serious health impacts.
Children are especially vulnerable because their lungs are still developing. Breathing in air heavy with tiny particles can be dangerous even over a short time; because these particles are so minuscule, they can enter the circulatory system and damage blood vessels.
Coal-fired power plants are a big contributor to the problem. “Power plant smokestacks are public health enemy number one for their contribution to deadly particulate pollution across the eastern United States,” said Dr. John Balbus. “Particulate pollution contributes to tens of thousands of premature deaths annually, heart attacks, strokes and asthma attacks.”
Amongst utilities, TVA is the second largest emitter of nitrogen oxides and the third largest emitter of sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide. This pollution causes acid rain, reduced visibility, ozone smog, and polluted waters, all of which have major impacts on public health and well-being and on the Tennessee Valley’s environment.
The American Lung Association (ALA) estimates that 570,000 children, 350,000 seniors, 153,000 people with asthma, and 170,000 people with emphysema or chronic bronchitis live in Tennessee counties where the air puts their health at risk.
Here are the numbers of Americans nationwide affected by coal fired plant emissions:
Mortality 23,600, Hospital Admissions 21,850, Emergency Room Visits for Asthma 26,000, Heart Attacks 38,200, Chronic Bronchitis 16,200, Asthma Attacks 554,000, Lost Work Days 3,186,000.
Over 23,6000 people a year are killed due to coal fired plant emissions. That is over 7 times how many were killed by the 9/11 attacks. Coal fired plants kill more Americans a year that all terrorist attacks on Americans combined.
The grave
III. Global climate change
CHINA (Reuters) - About 17 million people in southwest China don’t have access to clean drinking water due to sustained drought, state media reported on Sunday.
GRANTS PASS, Ore. - Bottom fish and crabs washing up dead on Oregon beaches are being killed by a recurring “dead zone” of low-oxygen water that appears to be triggered by global warming, scientists say.
SYDNEY (AFP) - Residents of a drought-stricken Australian town will vote this week on whether they’re prepared to drink water recycled from sewage -- the first such scheme in the country and one of only a handful in the world.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Temperatures will average above normal in most of the United States in August, extending what has been the warmest year on record so far, the U.S.
PARIS (AFP) - Europe has sizzled amid a fresh onslaught of oven-hot temperatures as governments and charity groups mobilized to prevent further deaths from a heat wave that has already killed about 40 people across the continent.
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - July 2006 is on track to be the hottest month in the Netherlands since temperatures were first measured in 1706, the Dutch meteorological institute KNMI said on Tuesday.
SAN FRANCISCO - Power companies worked to restore electricity to thousands of customers throughout California early Monday as a scorching heat wave threatened to push the state into a power emergency with the potential for more blackouts.
WASHINGTON -- The increase in the number of large western wildfires in recent years may be a result of global warming, researchers say.
BOSTON (Reuters) - Images of swamped homes in the U.S. Northeast deepened suspicions over global warming, giving ammunition to scientists and others who say greenhouse gas-spewing cars and factories are fueling extreme weather.
CHINA Crops on large tracts of farmland in Sichuan province and the nearby Chongqing municipality have withered due to the month-long drought, causing economic losses of 9.23 billion yuan ($1.15 billion), the Beijing News and the Xinhua news agency said
GREENLAND Scientists studying Greenland’s glaciers say seasonal melting has increased, and was greater last year than at any time in almost three decades.
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. - Up to 200,000 people in the Wilkes-Barre area were ordered to evacuate their homes Wednesday because of rising water on the Susquehanna River, swelled by a record-breaking deluge that had killed at least 12 people across the Northeast..
Reports are readily available from scientists across many fields— geologists, botanists, entomologists, geneticists, herpetologists, ichthyologists, lepidopterists, microbiologists, ornithologists, virologists, zoologists, and climatologist to name a few. What they are reporting is that the climate is changing rapidly.
The average temperatures of the first half of 2006 were the highest ever recorded for the continental United States.
Coal power plants produce roughly 30% of the CO2 emissions in the US. CO2 is a greenhouse gas and a primary culprit in global climate change aka global warming.
The basic idea of global warming is that greenhouse gases, or gases that trap heat are covering our planet and slowly raising the temperature of our planet. Some gases like methane are better at trapping heat than carbon dioxide.
Global warming is more than that though. Like strip mining, air pollution and global warming are all interconnected -- so are a whole host of results as a result of global climate change.
Hurricanes increase in intensity due to a few degrees increase is the surface temperature of ocean water. The global warming gas methane is released from both the ocean floors and the tundra in Siberia as the earth heats, this in turn speeds the cycle up.
At the base of all this change is massive amount of CO2 humans are pumping into the atmosphere with the burning of fossil fuels--coal being responsible for at least 30% of that CO2.
Additionally we are building coal plants as if we are not pumping enough CO2 and poisons into our atmosphere. There are currently more than 130 new coal plants proposed across the U.S., and Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects a 66 percent increase in coal-based power production and a 43 percent increase in CO2 emissions by 2030.
At a time when the evidence of global climate change is becoming overwhelming and the worlds credible scientists are in agreement as to mans impact on this change we are preparing to burn MORE coal, not less..
Worldwide the reports of climate change are remarkable. In a way global warming is a fascinating experiment in which we and the entire planet are unwilling participants.
Out of the entire US electric industry, coal-fired power plants contribute 96% of sulfur dioxide emissions (SO2), 93% of nitrogen oxide emissions (NOx), 88% of carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) and 99% of mercury emissions.
Strip mining, air pollution, climate change, clear cutting, watershed destruction, asthma, emphysema--all are interconnected with the fossil fuel coal. Our addiction to fossil fuels is killing us here at home, and overseas. Our addiction to coal is clear cutting our land, blowing up our watersheds, polluting our air--and wrecking our climate.
These are just a few of the problems we face as a result of the burning of coal for a fuel. Our planet is rapidly changing in a way never seen before in its geologic history. We need to get beyond seeing coal through blinders. Too often we see just the clear cuts, or just the strip mines, or just the climate change, or just the massive sediment dams.
Everything in the forest is interconnected. Its true of the use of coal as well. The destruction starts when the hillsides of Appalachia are shaved clean of trees and vegetation in preparation of mining. Massive amounts of sediment are washed into streams and forest which utilize CO2 are destroyed.
Then the mountains are blown up for strip mines. Entire watersheds which would produce clean drinking water for another 10,000 years are destroyed forever in a few days.
Appalachian communities are rocked by blast while the people of Appalachia are driven off the roads by overweight coal trucks.
Then the coal plants where a witches brew (apologies to witches) of toxic poisons are spewed into our air to choke our old people and children and to rain acid onto our land and water.
Following this the CO2 is pumped into our atmosphere in what is truly the “grave” for our planet: sea levels rise, hurricanes increase in intensity, tropical fish are found in northern latitudes where they have never been seen before, droughts plague entire regions while other areas are choked in smoke from massive forest fires on a scale never seen before.
There is no such thing as “clean” coal. The idea of clean coal is a myth perpetuated by coal companies who hope you won’t struggle as they put blinders on your head. “Clean coal” is an oxymoron and a contradiction by its very nature.
A man named George Orwell (actually his name was Eric Blair) once coined a term called “newspeak” in his novel 1984.
The most important aim of newspeak was to provide a means of speaking that required no thought what-so-ever. It uses abbreviations or clipped conjunctions in order to mask or alter a word’s true meaning. For example, words such as Miniluv and joycamp, allow the speaker to speak without actually being force to think about what they were talking about.
Saying “clean coal” is talking about coal without being forced to think about it’s whole cycle of destruction. “Clean coal” is the coal industries newspeak premised that you won’t take the blinders off and see coals dark little secret--that it cannot ever be “clean”.
The only route out of strip-mining, air pollution, acid rain and climate change is to break our addiction to fossil fools--I mean fuels.
To treat a societies addiction you must address part of the addicts cycle--the pusher. Right now the coal pushers are saying they can give us a clean drug with a clean needle, and if we just don’t look at the other effects of addiction everything will be fine.
Coal is not clean, nor can it ever be. The coal companies hope you don’t see the bodies, see the clear cuts, see the strip mines, see the buried streams and draw the links between your childs asthma and their “product”.
This destruction is not worth the short term profits of a greedy few. They are breaking the cradle and sending to many to the grave for their riches. They prey you look at coal with tunnel vision so you can’t see the truth. Its not worth it.

spewing cars and factories are fueling extreme weather.
CHINA Crops on large tracts of farmland in Sichuan province and the nearby Chongqing municipality have withered due to the month-long drought, causing economic losses of 9.23 billion yuan ($1.15 billion), the Beijing News and the Xinhua news agency said
GREENLAND Scientists studying Greenland’s glaciers say seasonal melting has increased, and was greater last year than at any time in almost three decades.
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. - Up to 200,000 people in the Wilkes-Barre area were ordered to evacuate their homes Wednesday because of rising water on the Susquehanna River, swelled by a record-breaking deluge that had killed at least 12 people across the Northeast..
Reports are readily available from scientists across many fields— geologists, botanists, entomologists, geneticists, herpetologists, ichthyologists, lepidopterists, microbiologists, ornithologists, virologists, zoologists, and climatologist to name a few. What they are reporting is that the climate is changing rapidly.
The average temperatures of the first half of 2006 were the highest ever recorded for the continental United States.
Coal power plants produce roughly 30% of the CO2 emissions in the US. CO2 is a greenhouse gas and a primary culprit in global climate change aka global warming.
The basic idea of global warming is that greenhouse gases, or gases that trap heat are covering our planet and slowly raising the temperature of our planet. Some gases like methane are better at trapping heat than carbon dioxide.
Global warming is more than that though. Like strip mining, air pollution and global warming are all interconnected -- so are a whole host of results as a result of global climate change.
Hurricanes increase in intensity due to a few degrees increase is the surface temperature of ocean water. The global warming gas methane is released from both the ocean floors and the tundra in Siberia as the earth heats, this in turn speeds the cycle up.
At the base of all this change is massive amount of CO2 humans are pumping into the atmosphere with the burning of fossil fuels--coal being responsible for at least 30% of that CO2.
Additionally we are building coal plants as if we are not pumping enough CO2 and poisons into our atmosphere. There are currently more than 130 new coal plants proposed across the U.S., and Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects a 66 percent increase in coal-based power production and a 43 percent increase in CO2 emissions by 2030.
At a time when the evidence of global climate change is becoming overwhelming and the worlds credible scientists are in agreement as to mans impact on this change we are preparing to burn MORE coal, not less..
Worldwide the reports of climate change are remarkable. In a way global warming is a fascinating experiment in which we and the entire planet are unwilling participants.
Out of the entire US electric industry, coal-fired power plants contribute 96% of sulfur dioxide emissions (SO2), 93% of nitrogen oxide emissions (NOx), 88% of carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) and 99% of mercury emissions.
Strip mining, air pollution, climate change, clear cutting, watershed destruction, asthma, emphysema--all are interconnected with the fossil fuel coal. Our addiction to fossil fuels is killing us here at home, and overseas. Our addiction to coal is clear cutting our land, blowing up our watersheds, polluting our air--and wrecking our climate.
These are just a few of the problems we face as a result of the burning of coal for a fuel. Our planet is rapidly changing in a way never seen before in its geologic history. We need to get beyond seeing coal through blinders. Too often we see just the clear cuts, or just the strip mines, or just the climate change, or just the massive sediment dams.
Everything in the forest is interconnected. Its true of the use of coal as well. The destruction starts when the hillsides of Appalachia are shaved clean of trees and vegetation in preparation of mining. Massive amounts of sediment are washed into streams and forest which utilize CO2 are destroyed.
Then the mountains are blown up for strip mines. Entire watersheds which would produce clean drinking water for another 10,000 years are destroyed forever in a few days.
Appalachian communities are rocked by blast while the people of Appalachia are driven off the roads by overweight coal trucks.
Then the coal plants where a witches brew (apologies to witches) of toxic poisons are spewed into our air to choke our old people and children and to rain acid onto our land and water.
Following this the CO2 is pumped into our atmosphere in what is truly the “grave” for our planet: sea levels rise, hurricanes increase in intensity, tropical fish are found in northern latitudes where they have never been seen before, droughts plague entire regions while other areas are choked in smoke from massive forest fires on a scale never seen before.
There is no such thing as “clean” coal. The idea of clean coal is a myth perpetuated by coal companies who hope you won’t struggle as they put blinders on your head. “Clean coal” is an oxymoron and a contradiction by its very nature.
A man named George Orwell (actually his name was Eric Blair) once coined a term called “newspeak” in his novel 1984.
The most important aim of newspeak was to provide a means of speaking that required no thought what-so-ever. It uses abbreviations or clipped conjunctions in order to mask or alter a word’s true meaning. For example, words such as Miniluv and joycamp, allow the speaker to speak without actually being force to think about what they were talking about.
Saying “clean coal” is talking about coal without being forced to think about it’s whole cycle of destruction. “Clean coal” is the coal industries newspeak premised that you won’t take the blinders off and see coals dark little secret--that it cannot ever be “clean”.
The only route out of strip-mining, air pollution, acid rain and climate change is to break our addiction to fossil fools--I mean fuels.
To treat a societies addiction you must address part of the addicts cycle--the pusher. Right now the coal pushers are saying they can give us a clean drug with a clean needle, and if we just don’t look at the other effects of addiction everything will be fine.
Coal is not clean, nor can it ever be. The coal companies hope you don’t see the bodies, see the clear cuts, see the strip mines, see the buried streams and draw the links between your childs asthma and their “product”.
This destruction is not worth the short term profits of a greedy few. They are breaking the cradle and sending to many to the grave for their riches. They prey you look at coal with tunnel vision so you can’t see the truth. Its not worth it.

4 Comments:

At 4:39 PM, Blogger superclosetnerd said...

I had no idea how many sites i'd find on this subject. Seems a little odd but i'm glad. here's mine -> chimney liner

 
At 2:39 PM, Blogger Maren said...

chris, would you please post your sources? im doing research for a proposed bill on solar energy.

 
At 1:14 PM, Blogger Lahurongirl said...

I would like to contact the writer of this blog. If you could please e-mail me at millieandchance@hotmail.com, that would be great.

Thank You,
Lisa Miller

 
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