Thursday, July 18, 2013

Global Warming and Coal: The Man who might save the Earth

Jim Yong Kim and Obama
In a stunning move, the newly-elected President of the World Bank has launched one of the most significant steps in human  history to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Supported by President Obama, Jim Yong Kim has persuaded the World Bank to move away from funding one of the worst polluting forms of energy: coal.

In so doing, this man might one day be regarded as one of the most significant heroes of earth, for starting the world down a meaningful path in fighting climate change.

Who is this man?

Heather Hurlburt waxed eloquent about him  in the Guardian. She regards the 12th President of the World Bank Group as "an innovator capable of reinventing the bank's role in global finance." 
She writes:

How unusual is this resume? If selected, Kim would be only the third of 12 World Bank presidents with no banking experience. (Barber Conable and Paul Wolfowitz being the other two.) He would be the first non-Caucasian, and the first to have be born and lived in a poor, war-torn society. (James Wolfensohn was born and grew up in Australia.) He would be the first to have worked in an international organization and the first to have run a non-profit advocacy organization.

 As an advocate, he rode a bus across the midwest with Bono and two dozen African child singers to draw attention to HIV/Aids, which is when I met him in 2002. As we spent time talking to truckers, students and evangelical Christians about HIV/Aids, he displayed all the commitment and public affairs savvy of an advocate and none of the stereotypical out-of-touch-ness of a banker or medical expert.

In our thriller about global warming and ancient Egyptian obelisks, Obelisk Seven, the hero, Nick Kangles, leads a vigorous debate over coal during one of the sessions of his WorldHeat television series:
Blood Coal Fighter

The discussion on coal was more subdued. Mike had given background facts on the use of coal, with Stefan tossing the odd question or comment into the mix.
            We use about five billion tons of coal a year in the world, and pump ten billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air doing so, said Mike, with about seventy percent of this coming from the generation of power. Between China, India and the USA there are plans to build nearly a thousand new coal power plants, and their emissions of carbon dioxide will be five times the cuts which countries agreed to under the Kyoto Protocol.
Obelisk Seven in Paris with Donna Sawchyn
            "Think of that for a bit: five times the Kyoto cuts. King Coal versus Kyoto."
            Power plants which use coal emit most of the carbon dioxide made by humans, about a quarter to a third.
            "Focus on this," Mike said, lowering his voice for dramatic effect. "One power plant equals two million cars. A new large power plant using coal pumps out six million tons of carbon dioxide each year, which is the same volume which two million cars produce in a year."
            He paused, eyes roving over the restless audience. The violence in the streets outside had its impact inside the studio.           
            "In the next thirty years China's plans call for it to increase its coal fired power plants capacity by about half of America's current consumption of electricity. If China goes ahead with its vast inefficient coal fired power plants, we will be locked into a massive carbon-trap because we will be locked into their plants with their lifetimes of sixty or so years."
            Mike's ending comment had been short and brutal; the Greenies in the audience broke into foot stomping applause when he made it.
"We don't want to buy blood diamonds any more," he said. "Nor should we be buying dirty power any more."
            A chant of Blood coal! Blood coal! broke out.
Perhaps Jim Yong Kim will lead the way in the fight to save our world from the ravages of Blood Coal.


  1. "A new large power plant using coal pumps out six million tons of carbon dioxide each year, which is the same volume which two million cars produce in a year."

    'large' is a bit vague and if it's new I assume it's efficient but googling coal consumption for an average coal fired power plant for one year I find it is 1200 tons so how pray do we get 6 million tons of CO2 out of 1200 tons of coal?

    6 million tons per year is over 16,000 tons a day. That much CO2 would need approx 12,000 tons of coal. That would be one massive power plant I think since it would take an average plant a whole year to use that much.

    Maybe the audience should have held the applause.



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