• Coal: The Dirty Truth, a view from COP17

    Blogpost by Caroline Chisholm - 30 November, 2011 at 9:02 2 comments

    No Future in Coal

    Burning coal is driving climate change – and Africa’s people are on the frontline. So, as the continent’s largest CO2 emitter, and the 12th largest in the world, South Africa is a major player on the global polluter’s stage. More than 90 percent of its energy is produced by coal, and less than 1 percent by renewable energy.

    As the host of the climate negotiations, which began in Durban this week, it is a far cry from the climate leadership role the South African government is promoting.

    Earlier this month, Greenpeace Africa held one of its first big direct actions, occupying a crane at the planned site of the Kusile coal fired power plant, operated by state owned energy agency, Eskom. As negotiators in Durban struggle to avoid catastrophic climate change, construction forges ahead on what is set to be one of the biggest coal-fired plants in the world.

    Given the extraordinary political and social changes that have happened in South Africa, there should be hope for the climate at these negotiations. And yet expectations are extremely low. Polluting corporations, such as Eskom, are holding us back from action on climate change. Globally they spend the equivalent of the GDP of entire nations, to block progress on climate legislation, and ensure that fossil fuel subsidies continue to give unfair advantages to dirty energy, above the safe, clean renewable energy future the public demands.

    South Africa has enormous potential for renewable energy, with its abundance of sun and wind. As our energy revolution scenario for South Africa shows, there is a real opportunity to embrace a clean, green economy. But we need to see this transition happen sooner rather than later, before our reliance on dirty energy causes an irreversible impact on our climate.

    Polluting corporations are not only being economical with the truth when it comes to the true cost of coal. They are gambling on the future of the people, their livelihoods and our planet. It is possible to scrap Kusile, and produce 50 percent of South Africa’s electricity through renewables by 2050 2030. It is a win-win-win situation. It can create thousands of new jobs, deliver fair access to energy for the 10 million people lacking basic electricity needs, and benefit the climate.

    So whatever decisions arise from the climate summit in Durban, one thing should be clear. Ending our addiction to coal should be non-negotiable.

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2 Comments Add comment

greenwedding says:

agreed..thanks..

Posted 30 November, 2011 at 12:04 Flag abuse Reply

(Unregistered) stevenearlsalmony says:

It is almost 2012. Why have many academicians apparently been rendered dumbstruck during my lifetime by what is all-too-obvious? Absolute global human population numbers can be clearly seen skyrocketing since the end of World War II. Are experts playing stupid? Have they been mislead by personal arrogance, extreme foolhardiness and wanton greed or overcome by a lust for influence, privilege and power? Or all of the above? When I was born, 2.3 billion human beings lived on Earth. In a single lifetime of threescore and ten years (1945 – 2015) human population numbers are projected and fully expected to increase by 5+/- billion people. How can so many economists and demographers not see what is happening? Do their professional activities have something to do with science? I say no, definitely not.

I find much preternatural thought and unscientific research but cannot locate adequate scientific evidence that supports the idea of “human exceptionalism” with regard to the population dynamics of the human species. Although the idea of human exceptionalism is known to be specious from a scientific point of view, because it is of vital importance to ideologues and those who primarily benefit from the way the global political economy is organized and managed, human exceptionalism has not been the subject of sufficient scrutiny by scientists and consequently allowed to stand uncontested during my lifetime. Even today scientists refuse identify the idea of human exceptionalism regarding human population dynamics as the false proposition it is. They remain electively mute when confronted with scientific research that directly contradicts the idea of human exceptionalism. Where is the scientific research to support the idea that human beings are somehow exempted from ecological “rules of the house” in our planetary home, as many so-called experts in economics and demography have regularly and adamantly proclaimed since the time of my birth.

The family of humanity appears to have been confused and harmed for many too many years by ideologically driven sycophants and absurdly enriched minions of the rich and powerful who have dishonestly been laying claim to scientific knowledge that they have not ever possessed. Demographaphers and economists are not scientists, the imprimatur of the IUSSP and the Nobel Prize Committee notwithstanding. These disciplines never have been fields of scientific study and never will be, at least not until demographic theories and economic models conform to the biological and physical laws of the world we inhabit, laws based upon the best available science. Science is. And whatsoever is is, is it not?

Extant scientific research of human population dynamics/overpopulation has been consciously and deliberately ignored by scientists with adequate expertise. They have failed to stand up for science and humanity by speaking truth to the greedmongering movers and shakers of the global political economy who rule the world in our time and appear dead set on ravaging the Earth and degrading its environs until the planet is an unfit place for children everywhere to inhabit. If my perspective could somehow be on the right track, then we are bearing witness not only to the greatest failure of nerve, intellectual honesty, moral courage of all time, but also to an incomprehensible loss of capacity to do the right thing, according to the lights each of us possesses.

If the population dynamics of the human species is essentially similar (not different from or exceptional) to the population dynamics of other species, then the most attractive, widely shared and consensually validated idea of a seemingly magical, automatic, benign demographic transition to population stabilization of the human species on Earth in the middle of Century XXI is a colossal mistake with potentially profound implications for future human well being and environmental health.

Posted 1 December, 2011 at 2:42 Flag abuse Reply

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