Ontario First Major Industrial Region to Abolish Dirty Coal Plants (Coal should be Illegal)

Coal plants are the world’s most abundant and most dangerous source of carbon dioxide emissions and the most important single driver of catastrophic climate change. The two biggest CO2 polluters, China and the US, both owe their infamy to their large number of coal plants.

All coal plants in the world need to be closed within a decade in order for us to avoid a potentially destabilized climate and enormous upheavals. I have blogged this issue several times and am struck by the almost complete lack of interest in the issue and the lack of urgency the public feels. I don’t understand it. It is not that there are no alternatives. Wind and solar are at or near grid parity with coal in most of the world, and even if they weren’t, the extra costs are minor compared to the cost of spilling dirty carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and cooking us all to death.

If people knew what was good for them and their children and grandchildren they’d locate the nearest coal plant and go there en masse and just lie down in front of its main gate to prevent the poisonous coal trucks from coming in.

And, here’s a real-world example of how coal can be abolished (through legislation, which is preferable if it can be achieved to lying down on the road):

Ontario will be the first major industrial region in North America to get none of its electricity from coal. Its last two big coal plants are scheduled to be closed within a year.

Green Energy Future argues that the province’s feed-in tariff law has been key to the turn to alternative energy.

Not only will the end of coal help Ontario drastically lower its carbon footprint but it will cut the exposure of the population (including children) to lung disease and mercury poisoning, both of which the US public is apparently blithely willing to put up with. (Mercury is a deadly nerve poison! Why would you let people blow it into your children’s faces or dump it into the water to accumulate in fish?)

The Lung Association explains:

14 Responses

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you once again Juan, thank you again for speaking the truth about the major issues of our time in a clear voice.

    The fossil fuel economy is, almost certainly, going to have to be just about completely transformed, or every successive generation is most certainly being condemned by the selfishness and apathy of those of us, over the age of 16 or so, who are living today.

    The necessary transformation to sustainable economic practices needed to happen ten years ago, however to now give ourselves ten years for a transformation unlike anything ever experienced by humankind is challenge enough for now.

    In order to transform our history in this way, we will, each and every one of us, have to also transform our psychologies and out internal psychological structures. We will have to transform our systems of “explanations,” whether we call those explanations sciences, religions or philosophies. We will have to transform our politics, that is to say our systems of how we give honor, status and rank to certain behaviors, to certain persons.

    And of course, to transform the global fossil fuel economy, we will have to transform our systems of creating economic values, economic desires, and our systems of providing goods and services to fulfill those values we desire.

    If you don’t plan on living much past 2020, OK, you’re excused. For the rest of us, our lives are pretty much gonna depend on how well we achieve these transformations.

  2. Juan, The reason I’m reluctant to reply by commenting here is that it is untrue there is time left where simply reducing emissions can avoid runaway global warming from going full tilt, barring Act of God intervention, and full buy in, and heavy duty action by all. All on Earth. And Peace too.. Laying aside arms for trust. -and I don’t think mankind has it in it, that ability..
    But it is duty to try now to make change happen world wide today. I commented at the Yale 360 link with Methane force information and size of release happening and info on flow.

    • There may not be time to avoid 2 or 3 degrees C increase, but there is time to avoid 5 or 6. The latter would be good to avoid. Why be so defeatist?

  3. It depends on what people decide to do. If you invested in the grid, you could bring wind power to most of the country from where it is strong. Natural gas is half as polluting as coal in CO2 terms but still puts out way too much of the stuff.

  4. something of a defeatist about this myself… if u.s. congress can’t even agree on funding the government for the next year, paying our bills n so forth, how can you expect them to take the long view(tho, not SO long, really) on climate change? as to obama, he’s STILL considering keystone pipe. not to suggest we can’t walk n chew gum at the same time, but this(climate) issue is really the ONLY issue worth organizing around at this moment in history in my view, yet, as you mention, “the almost complete lack of interest in the issue and the lack of urgency the public feels”. i support marriage equality and oppose ss cuts, but what’s the value of it if co2 driven permafrost melt releases enough methane to cause a mass extinction event? anyway, good on ya, ontario.

  5. It also should be pointed out that they get >50% of their electricity from nuclear energy. (A very clean energy source). Kudos to Ontario!

    • plenty of carbon involved in the life cycle(mining, refining, waste storage, whatever) same is true of renewables of course, tho i don’t think there’s much consensus on which is more carbon intensive… not a fan of nuclear, but i’d be willing to settle in short term in interest of getting SOMETHING accomplished. i agree w/ juan’s general point that wind/solar would allow for quicker pivot from fossil fuels, but, again, whatever gets us there. (in terms of co2 reductions)

  6. There still is time to reduce emissions. Global warming is real, it is happening, but the earth is like the human body, if a gash happens the body will repair itself with a scab.We can watch the earth repair itself if we changed today. We will still face the extreme weather conditions for the next 5-10 years but we can be back to normal in 15-25 years. That’s if we were to stop all the carbon dioxide emissions today.

  7. We’ve got a current global installed coal capacity of about 1440 GW, and about another 1200 GW in the pipeline. You would appear to propose we scrap it all and instead use wind and solar.

    Mr. Cole, sorry to be blunt, but that’s amazingly, well, I can’t finish that sentence without being impolite. You would do well to call up someone who manages your local power grid and ask them what they think of your plan.

    • The stuff in the pipeline is irrelevant.

      As for getting 1440 GW from renewables, it is indubitably possible.

      You are behind the curve.

      • So long as you include nuclear power as renewable energy then replacement is feasible. But if you include only intermittent power sources (wind/solar) then no, it’s not possible.

        Electricity is generated, transmitted and consumed in basically the same instant. Generation has to match demand. A good phrasing I read was “if you’re anti-CO2 and anti-nuclear, then you’re pro-blackout.”

        Obviously you shouldn’t trust some guy in the comments section. So I again encourage you to contact an electricity grid operator whose opinion you trust to confirm this fact.

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