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Action Alert: Coal Kills -- Time for People Power to Protect the Climate

The use of coal must end if we are to maintain an operable atmosphere, human civilization and all the Earth's complex life

By Climate Ark, a project of EcoInternet - February 28, 2009

In partnership with Capitol Climate Action

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Additional Background

The growing and powerful climate movement has, based upon climate science, already shown conclusively that climate change is real and deadly. Now we must urge politicians, industry and individuals to immediately act and transform themselves if we are to survive. Finally, a mass protest against coal -- whose plants are "factories of death" -- is to occur in America, reflecting the urgency and depth of the one most important, sufficient climate response through non-violent civil disobedience.

Coal generates the highest greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per unit of energy obtained, and large reserves remain that must not be burned if we are to survive. Continued reliance upon coal, without immediate phasing-out of plants that emit into the atmosphere, is incompatible with any scenario to reduce atmospheric GHGs to a safe level in time to avert irreversible and catastrophic climate change.

Ecological Internet wholeheartedly endorses the Capitol Climate Action -- the largest mass civil disobedience for the climate in U.S. history. On March 2, you are urged to join thousands of people in protesting at the Capitol Power Plant in Washington DC, a plant that powers the U.S. Congress with dirty energy. The peaceful protest is a rallying cry for a clean energy economy that protects the health of our families, our climate, and our future -- and ends the use of coal that emits pollutants into the atmosphere. Facing protest, Capitol leadership has already promised to switch the Capitol Power Plant off coal. Now we need them to promise to do the same thing to every other coal-fired power plant in America. If this one is too dirty, so are all the rest.

Coal is the dirtiest of all fossil fuels and has caused most of the global warming crisis to date. Coal-fired power plants remain the largest source of global warming pollution in the U.S., and the climate crisis cannot be addressed unless we stop burning coal. "Clean coal" is a fiction created by industry advertising, as carbon capture technology is untested and not available for years, if ever. From mining, to burning, to waste disposal, coal threatens our health and safety. Mountain-top removal mining destroys water resources and ecosystems; burning coal releases mercury, acid rain, black soot and tons of toxic ash waste; resulting in a host of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, including lung cancer, asthma, heart disease and premature death.

Humanity's dependence upon antiquated dirty coal energy is on the verge of triggering powerful and irreversible planetary feedbacks -- including permafrost methane release, less reflective ice, forest fires and overwhelmed carbon sinks -- that are beyond human control and will intensify abrupt and run-away climate change. Without an all out global people power mobilization to pursue the end of coal, and other sufficient climate policy such as protecting and restoring old forests, we are rushing into a global catastrophe never before imagined. Disappearing glaciers, fast changing climate zones, and desertification means dwindling water supply, famine, coastal flooding, ecosystem collapse, spread of tropical disease, mass migration and war. Coal kills.

The rapid phase-out of fossil fuels, particularly coal, is not only our best chance of averting climate catastrophe; it also provides a desperately needed –- and permanent –- major stimulus to our unraveling economy. Shifting to renewable energy -- even as we seek to dramatically increase energy efficiency and conservation -- means shifting hundreds of billions of dollars per year from dirty fuel purchases into green jobs creation within our own economies. Every dollar spent on green energy creates over three times as many jobs as in coal and oil. Vast military expenditures used to secure fossil fuel access, estimated at over $200 billion/year, would also be freed up. In short, this solution to the climate crisis also provides economic security, job security, and national security. It will restore health to people and the planet.

In December 2009, the international community will meet in Copenhagen to establish a plan to tackle the climate crisis. Congress and the Obama administration need to get to work now in order to position the U.S. to lead the world in developing an agreement capable of solving the crisis. There is no future for coal, tar sands or old forest logging in such an agreement, and the U.S. must begin to lead by example. Our leaders must repower our economy with clean energy technology and pass comprehensive science-driven coal and forest legislation that is capable of avoiding the most dangerous impacts of global warming.

We encourage you to consider marching and getting arrested to make the point that the age of coal is over, and/or to show your support for the brave protestors and the end of coal by sending the message below.

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Coal kills
The Capitol Hill Power Plant: Coal Kills and its use must end if we are to maintain an operable atmosphere  (link)

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