Thursday, September 25, 2008

Stop New Coal Plants with Civil Disobedience Says Al Gore

Speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City former vice president Al Gore, according to Reuters, had these words of advice for young people:
"If you're a young person looking at the future of this planet and looking at what is being done right now, and not done, I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants that do not have carbon capture and sequestration."

It appears that Gore has given up on the political process producing a moratorium on all new coal plants that do not capture and sequester carbon, an unproven technology. Leading climate scientist James Hansen has said such a moratorium is necessary. If there is a problem with Gore’s call for action it is that the young people who would be carrying out the acts of civil disobedience by and large are probably also excessive consumers of electricity and thereby partly responsible for creating a market for the coal plants. Unless one’s carbon footprint with regard to electricity use is miniscule how do you put your body in front of a bulldozer to stop a coal plant without being hypocritical. Given all the devices in use that require electricity from the grid either directly or through rechargeable batteries such as computers, TVs, iPods, cell phones, radios, dishwashers, refrigerators, air conditioners, and so forth it is going to be hard finding enough young people who have really taken large steps toward energy efficiency and conservation. Unless politicians in office stop worrying about how to meet an increasing demand for electricity and start worrying about how to reduce the demand for electricity it is going to be tough going stopping coal plants from being built, whether by civil disobedience or any other strategy.

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