Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Let's have some perspective

Not quite a year ago the Gulf Coast was shut down for months due to an oil disaster - a disaster that continues wreaking havoc in the Gulf and along the coast, with massive costs to fisheries, wildlife, and people's health.

Right this minute Saudi troops are 'controlling the unrest' in Bahrain, and de facto civil war rages in Libya, with unrest simmering all over the oil-producing Middle East.

Last year was the deadliest for coal mine disasters in the US, and around the world mining accidents and disasters were virtually commonplace (especially in China where there were over 2000 reported deaths, but major accidents occurred in Russia and New Zealand, as well as the Chilean 'miracle').

Explosions and other accidents at oil refineries kill dozens and injure more, not to mention release pollutants and damage property and the environment. In just the US, in 2010 alone, some dozen people were killed or severely injured and well over a million and a half gallons of oil was spilled from pipeline ruptures alone - and this is only oil pipelines.

Natural gas explosions, including pipelines, kill people across the US in dribs and drabs on a stunningly regular basis, and occasionally level an entire neighborhood. And around 170 more people die from carbon monoxide accidents and non-combusting leaks every year.

There's no good way to measure how many people die from air pollution due to fossil fuels. Wood burning stoves alone are said to cause more than a million deaths a year due to pollution. And chimney fires are the number one cause of fire-related deaths in the US, and they're in the thousands - the deaths; the fires are nearly half a million every year.

Let's face it: no form of energy is safe. It's just that most of us don't know any coal miners...



At 8:42 PM, March 15, 2011 Anonymous Anonymous had this to say...

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At 10:52 PM, March 15, 2011 Blogger Bonnie had this to say...

It's not just coal miners, either -- a new study from Harvard estimates the hidden cost of coal at $300 billion to $500 billion a year, just in the United States, from increased health care costs, deaths and injuries resulting from mining and transporting coal (ever met a coal truck on a narrow road?), and the emissions created by coal combustion. Oh, and then there's the mercury. It's nasty stuff, and my power provider burns TONS of it.

At 11:24 PM, March 15, 2011 Blogger Barbara had this to say...

I absolutely agree with you, except that I'm afraid your point is that nuclear energy isn't all that bad. Maybe it's just my age relative to Three Mile Island and Karen Silkwood, but I could never fathom that liberals (or anybody) got so comfortable with nuclear power. Because it has the potential to be so horribly bad when it goes wrong, and spent fuel is problematic in the best of circumstances. The main thrust of our energy policy should be using significantly less and innovating toward greater efficiency.

At 10:47 AM, March 16, 2011 Blogger The Ridger, FCD had this to say...

Perhaps it's my age (I was 25 when TMI happened) or perhaps it's growing up in a city built on nuclear energy, but yes. I do think well-constructed reactors are our best hope for maintaining our lifestyle. "Using significantly less" is a wonderful goal - seriously - but I don't think it's going to happen. Not until we have no choice - and then it won't be pretty. There are too many people in the world for us all to think we can just cut back and be energy-use-free. Which I know you didn't say, but I hear it a lot from those who want to kill nukes and oil.


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