There are alternatives to coal

There are alternatives to coal

September 3, 2013

Brad Hundt’s Sunday article on trying to live on the typical budget of someone who receives SNAP benefits struck home. We are what we eat, of course, and the problems with the American diet are fundamental and intimately tied to the environment, economics, education, medicine, and government. Efforts to expose the scandalous state of these things currently are appreciated. There is an alternative to wars at home and abroad; to unemployment, hunger, homelessness and no access to health care; to ignorance, racism, and capitalist politicians touting fossil fuels.

“The Center of the ‘Revolution,’” the headline on the front page of the Observer-Reporter was music to these old socialist ears, the 1960s again, but it was predictable that the story was the local economic miracle of natural gas in the 21st century, followed by “Coal: defenders and detractors,” described as the “second of two articles on the energy revolution in the region,” concluding: “Coal will be around for a long time.”

True, and that’s the problem with burning coal or natural gas. The carbon and noxious emissions stay in the atmosphere for a very long time. We must stop burning fossil fuel, change to hydrogen or electric vehicles, and switch to clean energy. It’s not a great technological challenge, and the investment bankers, given our capitalist system, will be more than amply rewarded by taxpayers and consumers of green energy.

But what of the jobs? For coal miners, there are less stupid ways of earning a living. Thanks to the United Mine Workers, many miners have union wages and benefits, along with tradition. There was a revolution in the coalfields in the 1960s and, almost 50 years later, another one is needed. Miners are workers with a long history in the struggle for human rights and at the center of the fight for clean energy, a 21st century education and good union jobs, with the three levels of government as employer of last resort. Organize to make it happen.

Jim Greenwood



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