Monday, February 16, 2009

Moratorium on Coal Plants?

From what I understand of James Hansen's work, and the implications as spelled out in earlier posts on this blog, our society and the entire world, must have a moratorium on coal plants starting now. I have not personally taken a position on that question because I recognize that forbearance can be a very important virtue as long as we move efficiently and rapidly toward reducing our overall carbon footprint. But as lawyers sometimes like to say, time is of the essence.

This from the New York Times: This green chorus also includes Al Gore, the former vice president, Eric E. Schmidt, the chief executive of Google, and Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, who has called for a moratorium on new coal plants.

Is America Ready to Quit Coal?

Also possibly of interest in the article is the appearance of The Rising Tide, which made an appearance at the Harvard talk given by Steven Leer of Arch Coal. Here is the best picture I captured of that protest demonstration from my vantage point in the middle of the audience. The same New York Times article has this about their protest of Duke Energy's proposed coal-fired power plant:

Last May, protesters took over James E. Rogers’s front lawn in Charlotte, N.C., unfurling banners declaring “No new coal” and erecting a makeshift “green power plant” — which, they said in a press release, was fueled by “the previously unexplored energy source known as hot air, which has been found in large concentrations” at his home. And so it goes for Mr. Rogers, the chief executive of Duke Energy. For three years, environmentalists have been battling to stop his company from building a large coal-fired power plant in southwestern North Carolina.

The interesting things about the Rising Tide demonstrations is that they are in at least two different geographical regions, and that they were both apparently very well planned. (You cannot set up shop on the front lawn of a CEO of a major company and have it witnessed without some skillful preparation.) See Natasha Whitney's article about the event in the Harvard Crimson ( See the YouTube entry ( for the Rising Tide video of the Harvard demonstration. The camera angle is excellent, the result of careful planning. The demonstration triggered during the time that a person from Rising Tide in the audience was asking some challenging questions. As a member of the audience, I was completely suprised when the demonstration suddenly unfolded. And when Dan Schrag of Harvard stood up to interrupt the demonstration and confront the questioner, the demonstrators folded their cards quickly and without dispute. Of course, the real deal is the influence of the YouTube video, and capturing that video is something that the protesters had already achieved. It was captioned and put up on YouTube in significantly less than 24 hours, further evidence of how well planned and executed the protest really was.

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