January 2009

February 5th is the day of National Teach-in on Global Warming Solutions.  We always hear of the dangers of Global Warming, and it is important to know how this will impact humans and ecosystems, but now is the time to talk about solutions.  There are ways that we can stop things from getting worse and get onto the track of a healthy future.

Marshall University in Huntington, WV is hosting a teach in. Below is the agenda.  Want to find a Teach-in closer to home?  Check out the action map for an event near you.

National Teach-In on Global Warming Solutions
February 5, 2009
Marshall University’s Program for Participation…

The Global Warming Solutions Gallery

Location and Time: Marshall University Student Center, Room BE5, 10am until 7pm

a.    10:00am – 11:00am: Connect to “Focus the Nation”
b.    11am – 11:30am: Coal River Wind Project Presentation
c.    11:30am – noon: Dr. Mike Little’s Agriculture Reclamation for Mountaintop Removal Sites Presentation
d.    Noon – 1pm: Discussion of “A New Shared Economy for Appalachia” paper
e.    1pm – 3pm Green Jobs Panel, with representatives from:
i.    Center for Economic Options (CEO)
ii.    WV Youth Action League (WV-YAL)
iii.    Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER)
iv.    More participants TBD
f.    3:00pm to 3:30pm: Green Bridge (a green business being developed by MU students)
g.    3:30pm to 5pm: Open Mike
h.    5pm to 7pm: “Kilowatt Ours” (film)
i.    Other Gallery Items:
i.    The Global Warming Solution Poster Series provided by Marshall’s HON480 “Global Climate Change: Scientific and Social Perspectives” Class
ii.    Kat Cadle (poster and handouts on simple ways to live sustainably)
iii.    Showcase of Marshall’s available, relevant library items on green design, sustainability, global warming, etc.

Anyone interested in presenting an idea, project or information about a global warming solution can email Libby Callicoat at callico1@marshall.edu to be included.

http://www.ilovemountains.org has a great round-up of recent news surrounding the TVA spills in Tennessee and Alabama including various news articles, releases from TVA and other agencies, fact sheets on fly ash, coal waste, ecological risk, etc, photographs, and videos. Thank you ilovemountains for putting together this wonderful resource page.  Please check it out here.

Congressman Nick Rahall from southern WV, who also serves as the House Chairman of Natural Resources, is calling for federal regulations concerning coal ash dams.  Check out the Charleston Gazette article here.  But what good will this do? It is already painfully obvious that countless rules and regulation that are supposed to govern coal extraction and plants are not followed.  Furthermore, what use is a regulation with no one to enforce it?  Doesn’t the “P” in EPA and DEP stand for protection? Better yet, outlaw this sort of containment all together.  By using the dry-press method, there is no need for ponds that may potentially bust and release toxins. The slightly higher processing fee is worth protecting health and safety. Hopefully the tragedies in Harriman, Tennessee and at the Widow’s Creek plant in Alabama will serve as a wakeup call for policy makers, the new Presidential administration, and the American people that something needs to be done. Just think about the children that attend  Marsh Fork Elementary in southern WV. The school sits just “225 feet from a coal loading silo that releases chemical-laden coal dust and 400 yards from a 385 foot tall leaking sludge dam with a nearly 3 billion gallon capacity.” (Pennies of Promise) This is not the same material released at the TVA site, but is still extremely toxic and poses a tremendous threat.  Many of the children already suffer from nosebleeds, asthma, headaches, and much more. Just think of the unimaginable tragedy that would occur if this containment pond were to break as well.

In some cases, certain types of regulations create negative impacts on other ecological and health issues.  For example, The second TVA disaster in AL last Friday concerned Gypsum which is used as a “scrubber”, chemicals that are used in coal burning power plants to pull sulfur dioxide from the emissions in order to meet clean air standards. While this is good for the air, it creates a by-product that must be disposed of somehow, and in this case the gypsum spilled into the Tennessee river and damaged the water.  Regulations need to be formulated in a holistic manner and be truly enforced with severe consequences if not followed.

Is this what God had in mind when he called us to tend to his garden?  We must use what God has given us in responsible ways, and it is a possibility.  What is also very disturbing about these recent disasters is that they could have been prevented. There are methods in place to limit risk, but of course sometimes added safety  may mean an added cost. We must ask ourselves, what is best for the future of God’s creation- the environment and his children? In the long run, what has a higher cost, a small amount of money added to each ton to ensure, in multiple facets, a more ethical practice, OR the cost of cleaning up a major environmental disaster, the impact on health, safety, and ecosystems, and the cost of defiling God’s gift to humanity?

We must take action in order to protect our families, environment, and future.

  • Share this news with your friends and family.  Educate them and yourself about the TVA disasters.  Let them know that there are many other sites in similar danger.
  • Write or call your congressmen as well as those in affected areas.
  • Advocate for clean energy and responsible mining, processing, and containment behaviors.  One way you can do this is by pledging to make a call to the White House on Jan 21. the national call-in day hosted by CLEAN.  See previous post for details or just go here to sign up.