Mon | Oct 22, 2018

Burn the myths of pro-coal posse

Published:Friday | January 30, 2015 | 12:00 AM

In an article published Wednesday, January 28, 2015, 'Don't close mind to coal', the writer examines the improvements and advances the coal industry has made in cleaning up its bad record on the environment.

The writer explains that coal, with the introduction of new technology, has become a 'clean' source of energy. This article is not just misleading, but also quite insulting to the intellect of Jamaicans.

First, the writer presents information from the World Coal Institute/Association, which, on examination, turns out to be a lobbying firm for the coal industry. This organisation's role is to promote the use of coal. It, therefore, means that citing evidence from that source is guaranteed not to be completely factual because it has a vested interest in the release of positive information about coal.

In the list of 'improvements', the writer failed to mention carbon dioxide, one of the biggest contributors to global warming. Up-to-date scientists report that there is no feasible way to capture and store the greenhouse gas.

The ash from 'clean' coal power plants is where the toxins and harmful chemicals are found - chemicals such as mercury, lead, and arsenic, just to name a few. After burning coal, these toxins will have to be stored somewhere. The primary means of storage is in gallons of water to prevent wind from blowing the ash into the air and causing harm.


storage facilities


In 2008, in Tennessee Valley, United States, one of the storage areas for the ash broke. This leaked 1.1 billion gallons of water over several hundred acres of land, destroying wildlife and plants, polluting waterways and depositing the chemicals into soil, rendering the soil unusable.

The writer makes the claim that coal has the biggest and most widespread reserves of any fossil fuel, which is absolutely not true. In fact, there are only 10 countries with commercially proven recoverable coal deposits.

This poses a significant problem because coal, unlike oil, is a very bulky product to transport. It requires a lot of space to ship, which will increase the cost of transportation to Jamaica. In the long term, we could face higher electricity bills and continue to destroy our environment at the same time.

In our quest for cheaper sources of energy, let us consider our environment around us.