Cumberland Times-News


August 5, 2013

Burning coal will eventually kill our planet

Dear Senator Manchin:

Your recent press release touting coal (“Manchin: Here are the facts about coal,” July 29 Times-News) was broad on generalizations but short on addressing scientific facts about coal’s role in the destruction of our planet’s environment.

If you would have the public support coal as an energy source, perhaps you would address the following facts?

This summer, the atmosphere in the northern hemisphere hit 400 ppm (parts per million) of CO2, the primary gas now warming our planet at record rates. The atmosphere hasn’t seen this level of CO2 in over 800,000. Scientific measurements show this rise beginning around 1750 with the industrial revolution being fueled by coal.

Burning fossil fuels account for over 90 percent of the CO2 now being released, and we are increasing the load by over 5 percent per year.

Scientists agree that if we want to save the planet in anything like its present condition, we’ve got to get green house gases down to 350 ppm or less.

Recent studies indicate that global warming could kill off 25 percent of the planet’s plant and vertebrate life by 2050.  If we continue burning coal, we will inevitably destroy our planet. Shouldn’t we stop burning coal — and other fossil fuels —a s quickly as possible to avoid our own extermination?

I hope you won’t say that global climate change is just a theory. Over 98 percent of scientists in the field say the evidence is overwhelming that our burning of fossil fuel is the cause of the dramatic climate changes taking place.

One has only to look at the forest fires in the west, the significant changes in precipitation patterns, the warming oceans, and increased super-storms to see that climate change isn’t a manufactured hoax.

We have dumped so much CO2 into the atmosphere that the world’s oceans, a major carbon sink, are now undergoing acidification.

Combined with rising ocean temperatures from global warming, this has resulted in the gradual but pronounced destruction of coral reefs. If we lose the coral reefs, the nurseries of the oceans, we will lose the planet as we know it. Shouldn’t we make it a priority to end the burning of coal purely for reasons of survival?

In the U.S., coal has been dumping 40 to 50 tons of mercury per year into our environment each year. Mercury is a neurotoxin that now pollutes our rivers, streams, and lakes.

Most coal-fired plants also use and abuse massive amounts of water. Should we not stop this as quickly as possible to protect resources essential for life?

This country has had the luxury of wonderful water resources, yet the preferred coal mining practice, mountain top removal, has destroyed 2400 miles of streams, not to mention the destruction of the homes and livelihood of so many across Appalachia.

Have you visited southwestern West Virginia recently and actually seen the destruction there or talked to the people whose lives have been devastated?

The talk of jobs is a red herring. What good are jobs if we don’t have clean water, clean air, and viable flora and fauna?  

If you look at Germany, as they have moved away from coal to renewables, their economy has remained strong and vibrant. We could easily do the same, and create far better jobs than the coal industry now offers.

I know how D.C. works, and you are beholden to the monies Big Coal pours into your campaign coffers.

But are you willing to look at the bigger picture — a picture that tells us unequivocally that to continue burning coal is to guarantee the death of our planet?

Doesn’t love for your children and grandchildren make such considerations paramount?

Craig Etchison

Fort Ashby, W.Va.

Text Only
  • Life-saving law Life-saving law

    Not many pieces of legislation to come out of Annapolis can be described as a matter of life or death. But the CPR law signed by Gov. Martin O’Malley is just that.
    Known as Brenna’s Law, the legislation requires that all Maryland high schoolers will be required to complete CPR training as part of the graduation requirement.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cat sanctuary could use help with veterinarian bill

    Dawn’s Cat Sanctuary, Fort Ashby, W.Va., recently rescued 11 cats and one kitten from a home in Keyser, W.Va.

    April 24, 2014

  • Street flowers Street flowers

    Walk along Frostburg’s Main Street in the spring and summer and one can’t miss the beautiful floral arrangements that adorn the lampposts.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • President and Obamacare: Who needs Congress?

    Being a fellow from a small town like Cumberland I don’t always really understand what’s going on in Washington. But I have watched a few houses being built over the years. I even helped some with one house, but my brother fired me from that work pretty quickly, mainly because it was his house being built.

    April 22, 2014

  • Sweet Success Business Forum this evening in Frostburg

    As a member of the Frostburg Business and Professional Association (FBPA), I am pleased to inform the community of the “Sweet Success” event sponsored by the city of Frostburg and our organization.

    April 22, 2014

  • First base First base

    The idea of spending up to $7,500 for a study about the possibility of bringing a minor league baseball team to the area should at least be allowed to reach first base.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • You can help United Way reach its goal

    The United Way of Allegany County campaign for 2013-14 will end April 30 and to date has raised more than $430,000, which is over 86 percent of its goal. But there is still $70,000 to be raised in a very short time.

    April 21, 2014

  • Support Canal classrooms with tax-deductible gift

    While your April 17 article (“Park Service opens Canal classrooms,” Page 1A) described this exciting program accurately, your readers may be wondering how they can help support this new educational opportunity for school children in Allegany County.

    April 18, 2014

  • Ivan Hall story brings back memories of a unique man

    I enjoyed Mike Sawyers’ Ivan Hall story. It was well written and brought back some wonderful memories of my Cumberland days and especially, an unique man.

    April 18, 2014

  • It’s a secret It’s a secret

    Could someone enlighten us about why not even the names of the two entities bidding on development of the Footer Dye Works building can be divulged?
    A Times-News article about the bids included an explanation from a lawyer for the attorney general’s office about the need to keep the names and other information secret at this time. Despite that, the logic of not divulging at least a little more information escapes us.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo