Statement of Jim Hansen at 23 June 2009 Coal River Mountain rally.
Mountaintop removal ignites strong passions because local effects are obvious – pollution of air and water, effects on human health, destruction of the environment.
But another effect of coal mining, global climate change, will become important in the next few decades. Climate change will have large consequences for people who are alive today, especially children, and future generations.
President Obama speaks of “a planet in peril” for good reason. If we do not move rapidly to carbon-free energy, we will hand our children a planet that has passed climate tipping points. It will be a more desolate planet, with half or more species committed to extinction.
Burning all fossil fuels would destroy the future of young people and the unborn. Coal is the critical issue. Coal is the main cause of climate change. It is also the dirtiest fossil fuel. Air pollution, arsenic, and mercury from coal have devastating effects on human health and cause birth defects.
The science is clear. We must have a moratorium on new coal plants and phase out existing ones within the next 20 years. We should start with termination of mountaintop removal now. Coal from mountaintop removal provides only 7% of United States coal, less than the amount of coal that we export... Continued...