Tuesday, 16 July 2013

"The necessity of coal expansion" and other delusions

In my July 16, 2013 op-ed in the Vancouver Sun I counter arguments for rapid expansion of coal exports from North America by showing how these are based on self-serving arguments that ignore the resulting increase in carbon pollution – which scientists show we must do everything to decrease, not increase. Today, without regulations here and abroad requiring carbon capture and storage, expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure can only mean increasing carbon pollution and hence global warming. But it need not be so. Our only chance is if we refuse to expand coal mines and coal exports unless coal purchasers are not increasing carbon pollution. In the case of using coal to produce steel, we have the technologies today to capture and permanently store about 90% of the CO2 emitted from steel mills, and a range of industry, government and independent estimates suggest that this would gradually increase the cost of steel production by 10% over twenty years. Instead, those who would benefit by rapidly increasing carbon pollution offer countless rationales for starting this new coal mine, expanding that coal port, etc. 

In upcoming blogs and op-eds I will be writing more on what I call the “This particular fossil fuel development is necessary” delusion – a chapter in my draft manuscript, which currently has the working title “Deluding Ourselves.”

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