Thursday, March 24, 2011

Help Me On This One

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The sun is rising quickly now and the wind is providing encouragement. Birds finally made it to the feeders and Karl the Wonder Dog just returned from his second walk of the morning. The 6° temperature earlier this morning slowed his enthusiasm. I expected to see more snow this morning but nothing fell last night. I'm smiling as I love the sunshine and prefer to see the snow melt this time of year. My gardens beckon as the list of garden jobs grows. Probably yours do too.

A Facebook friend posted this story and I really need some help here. Start with this announcement about coal that starts Obama administration announces massive coal mining expansion. Coal is something I am not particularly fond of. As a kid I learned about coal, the coal truck, the coal chute, coal stoves and shoveling coal. I didn't like it. About the only thing I liked about coal was when an elementary school teacher took pieces of coal and poured on salt, food coloring, mecurochrome and laundry bluing and told us to wait a couple days for "magic". The resulting almost moss-like growth was a magic of sorts at a time when I was thinking adults could do some very special things. Back then teachers used to let kids play with lots of things that they shouldn't have such as mercury and mecurochrome. I don't think mecurochrome is even around anymore because it was determined to cause cancers but I sure had my share swabbed on over the years.

During campaign election times I chanced to hear a list of things that if accomplished would somehow appease about every voter going. During Vermont elections I asked a young friend who was campaigning aggressively for a candidate to make a list of what his "favorite" proposed and check with me in two years with the results. What I heard from Washington candidates was a lot about energy including some suggestions to build our economy and clean up some messes at the same time. Wind, solar and hydro were discussed and there were actual stats on how many people could be put back to work in "clean" jobs involving those energy types.

This coal thing has me bothered because every August, a giant weather system arrives in Vermont and when the rain stops falling, everything here is covered in black. This is an annual event and the "black" is acidic and is noticeable on plants. Flowers such as the lilies we used to grow are covered. When we grew Oriental lilies such as 'Siberia' up top, most often they had to be thrown out if we didn't chance to get them covered first because nobody would buy them. After a few years of this I began looking at weather patterns and the storms always came from industrial portions of the US.

I'm not convinced coal is the way to go given the other alternatives that do not pollute as much. I may be wrong and I am always willing to hear new perspectives. But in a nation that is trying desperately to figure out health care, I am not convinced more air pollution is the way to go. I burn wood in the latest generation wood stove available. I clear our land of dead and dying trees and encourage better growing forests. I use the most energy efficient oil burner I can for supplemental heat and after 20 years, it still tests at 87% efficiency. But this coal thing bothers me. Perhaps our pollution controls are better than before. Perhaps our mining technology is also better and major pollution has been considered. Doubling coal production raises a flag for me. Who can help me with this?

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
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1 comment:

eagiffin said...

I too can remember the days of coal. We lived near the railroad tracks and if we had laundry hanging outside it would be covered with soot every time a train went by.