June 19, 2015 · 11:13 am
By Christopher B. Daly
We take you now to the Vatican . . .
. . . where a pope who took the name of the saint who cared the most about birds and animals and all living creatures decided to take a stand on the moral issues raised by pollution, rampant consumerism, and brutal inequality. He is telling believers to forget about that line in the Bible about God giving man “dominion” over the planet. Instead, he’s telling believers to read the rest of the Bible and catch the main drift, which emphasizes humility, stewardship, and love.
Here’s a summary, courtesy of the Holy See Press Office, and here’s the full text.
Here’s the “lead” (in which Francis invokes his sandal-wearing, vegetarian, tree-hugging namesake):
1. “LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.
–Uh-oh. What happens when the institution of the papacy flip-flops? Could be awkward for American Republicans. (Especially those American Republicans who expediently cite papal teachings on issues like abortion and birth control when it suits them.)
–Especially when the American electorate is moving the other way.
ELSEWHERE in fossil fuels . . .
–Batteries have long been the weak link in the transition to electric power. Could this guy have an answer?
–On the divestment front: add the pro-business MIT to the list of U.S. universities bailing out of investments in coal (and tar sands). Go, you Beavers!
–And here’s a series on coal-fired plants. Phew.
Filed under coal, energy, fossil fuels, oil, Pope Francis
Tagged as divestment, environment, fossil fuels, global warming, pollution, pope, Pope Francis
December 9, 2013 · 12:46 pm
By Christopher B. Daly
Those of us who live downwind of the Rust Belt states have been breathing their fumes since the early days of the Industrial Revolution. We have done a pretty good job (I know, I know: we have a ways to go) to clean up our own skies. Here in Massachusetts, we have a mix of nuclear, fossil-fuel, and alternative energies, and we have a comparatively high-tech economy that does not depend on digging up long-dead plants and dinosaurs and burning the carbonic residue. So, the last thing we want to do is have our skies polluted by your fossil-fuel plants.
Now, eight Northeast governors are asking the EPA to do its duty and actually protect the environment by cracking down on the Midwest sources of pollution. From the Times:
The East Coast states. . . have for more than 15 years been subject to stricter air pollution requirements than many other parts of the country. Their governors have long criticized the Appalachian and Rust Belt states, including Ohio, Kentucky and Michigan, for their more lenient rules on pollution from coal-fired power plants, factories and tailpipes — allowing those economies to profit from cheap energy while their belched soot and smog are carried on the prevailing winds that blow across the United States.
And, Midwesterners — While you are cleaning up your act, please do me a favor: Tell your industry trade groups to stop buying time on television to sell me on the virtues of “clean coal.” There is no such thing as clean coal and never will be.
Let’s grow up and move on. Don’t waste your time trying to cling to fossil fuels. The sooner you give them up, the better off you’ll be — not to mention everyone downwind.
That is a power plant cooling tower in Kentucky. Below is a photo I took outside Xian, China, last spring. Believe me, we really do not want to sink to their level. The way to out-compete China is to pull away in terms of cleanliness, not dirtiness. (This was not a stormy day, either. Just another day in China.)
March 22, 2013 · 11:45 am
By Christopher B. Daly
Having just returned from two weeks in China, I can confirm the point made in a story in today’s New York Times: China’s air is filthy. People routinely wear surgical masks just to avoid breathing in all the particulates. It feels like Pittsburgh or Manchester of the late 19th Century.
–China’s energy companies are as short-sighted as our own, lobbying to continue polluting the air. But at least on CCTV I did not see any ads touting the oxymoronic “clean coal.” Coal is coal, and coal is dirty. From today’s Times piece by Edward Wong:
Even as some officials push for tighter restrictions on pollutants, state-owned enterprises — especially China’s oil and power companies — have been putting profits ahead of health in working to outflank new rules, according to government data and interviews with people involved in policy negotiations.
–We in the States should be aware that China is subsidizing our own clean skies by putting up with the pollution that makes their products so cheap. Walmart and other retailers could not stock their shelves with such low-priced goods if China took the necessary steps to clear its own skies. If they really insisted on air that is as clean as that in the US or Europe, China would have to install scrubbers, switch to cleaner fuels, and invest in a lot of new greener technology. In that case, the price of manufacturing would go up, and we would have to pay a bit more for all the cheap stuff we import. Which would not be the worst thing.
Here’s a photo I took in Xi’an, a city of about 10 million in east-central China:
Power plant in Xi’an, China.
And here’s a Beijing sunrise:
It really is that bad.