The Coal-ition

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Coal is our Heritage, not our Future

By Liam Carr

 See Also: The Black Stuff was our Heritage, Green is our Future (Think Left)

UK Coal are back, and they want to opencast the Pont valley. The Pont Valley is under threat. It is a beautiful valley the North East of England which lies between three former pit villages Leadgate, Medomsley and Dipton. UK Coal want to start a surface mine (opencast) in the Pont valley. 

One thing about UK Coal that should be admired is their relentless tenacity in trying to decimate the varied habitats that make up the Pont valley to get at the coal seams beneath. Since the painful end of the Mining era in the North East in 1986 they have applied for planning permission to opencast at various sites in the Pont valley on several occasions. This is the third time they have applied to opencast this very patch of land (although they have used a different name to describe it each time)  all applications have, until now, been unanimously refused by both the planning officers who work for the council and by elected representatives.

This most recent application was little different than the any of the previous ones other than in name UK Coal have called it the ‘Bradley’ site. Bradley is an area on the opposite side of the valley, a cynic might think that this is a deliberate attempt to confuse the public. It may have worked on the planning officer who was not in post at the time of earlier refusals and chose to break with tradition, this time recommending the application for approval. The communities surrounding the proposed site were understandably outraged and the council overturned the decision. UK Coal have seen a chink in the armour of previously impenetrable opposition and seized the opportunity to appeal this decision. A public enquiry starts on the 25th of October and is expected to last for 3 weeks, after this a final decision will be made.

This area comprises both coniferous and deciduous woodland and one less common type of habitat, ponds.   

Ponds are forgotten havens of biodiversity. Hedgerows got a bit of publicity a few years back; people have camped in trees to save them from road expansion but to my knowledge there has never been a Save Our Ponds campaign. In the planning application for opencast UK Coal said that they would relocate several mature ponds to a location in the valley that does not lie over a coal seam. Recovery would take decades. It would be impossible for plant species and invertebrate populations to be relocated effectively and the gradual increase in biodiversity over time would need to start all over again. This is known as secondary succession.

 

 Biodiversity is not the only type of diversity that is under threat. Genetic diversity would also be reduced. Genetic diversity is vital for the health of a population. it can be described simply as ‘how wide the gene pool is’ but more accurately it is the total number of different alleles in a population. A gene is a section of DNA that codes for a characteristic and an allele is a form of a gene. If there are several forms of a gene within a population then genetic diversity is high, this makes the population more resilient, more resistant to disease and less vulnerable to extinction.

The genetic diversity of the already rare great crested newt would be particularly threatened by being moved to a newly constructed pond.

 

Relocation would, in effect, act as a ‘genetic bottleneck’ This term is used to described what happens when a population must restart from a small number of individuals. There are only a few alleles in the small number of individuals that would moved. They would be the only ones that could breed in the new habitat. It would be impossible to move anywhere near the whole population. Newts send a lot of time literally buried in silt and even under turf. Needless to say surface mining would wipe out these individuals along with any unique alleles which will never be passed on and disappear from the gene pool forever. The relocated population would be more closely related to each-other and more vulnerable to disease and extinction.

There are no cheetahs in the Pont valley. They are however an excellent example of an organism with very low genetic diversity. If you compare their DNA then every cheetah on this planet is as closely related as two human siblings. Amazingly they are so genetically similar that all cheetahs will accept skin grafts from all other cheetahs. It is thought that the population was reduced around 10 000 years ago  Damage to genetic diversity is a problem that never really goes away.

There are many valid arguments against coal as an energy resource and against its methods of extraction. These are avenues will be explored in the process of enquiry. Some of these arguments are familiar territory. There are the impacts on biodiversity and genetic diversity. There is the impact in the lives of the young people; children who are primary school will be preparing for their GCSEs by the time extraction of an estimated 500 000 tonnes of coal would be complete, some of the lucky ones (who think they can live with the debt) will have left the area to go to University by the time the area starts to look like a viable habitat. Their childhood will be spent with plant machinery rather than plant life. The opportunity to play out in a wild magical place only a small-persons-leg-friendly walk from my back gate will be denied. The site will never be the same. Unlike the men from the area who risked their lives down the pit, the landscape will not retain its rugged character planning application to opencast was refused thanks to the work of councillors and local activists.

ECONOMICS

The argument I am least comfortable with, may be one of the most effective. The application was recommended for approval on the ground that the economic benefits to the area outweighed negative aspects. This is an argument about money.  The price of coal is going up which makes it a valuable commodity. The reason UK Coal keeps coming back to this area is because the Pont Valley contains a profit for its shareholders. The price of coal is artificial, it seems ludicrous but globally fossil fuels receive 10 times the subsidy of renewables. If carbon capture and storage was a precondition of of all newly mined coal then I’m not sure the Pont valley would not be such a huge attraction for UK Coal, maybe there shareholders could take a long-view and invest in fledgling   renewable based start-ups in the North East instead. It would be better for the region than fixed term security jobs on minimum wage that will end when the coal is out. Investment in new green technology is better for the world economy too. Scientists and economists have agreed and it is now widely accepted that mitigating for and reducing the causes of climate change is cheaper than doing nothing, waiting for it to happen and then dealing with the resulting chaos.

But even with the price of coal as it is today the economic argument for opencast coal-mining does not make sense. UK Coal have pledged 10p per tonne of coal for community work to be shared between three former pit villages. To compensate for 3-4 years of increased traffic, noise and dust, then a recovery time which really cant be determined accurately the villages will get around £16 000 assuming their extraction targets are met. That is £4000 per year of disruption. The untouched is worth more to the communities than that and it will continue to be for all of our lives. This statement about the land being worth more is not a throwaway line. It is a quantifiable fact. 

UK Coal appealed against the decision and are trying to get the decision to refuse planning overturned. 

  • They will say that we [the activists] are NIMBYs. 
  •  Well the Pont valley is my backyard and I don’t want an opencast coal mine in it so yes I am a NIMBY but I don’t want an opencast coal mine in your backyard either, or in anyone else’s for that matter – there are other ways to generate electricity there are other energy resources and if it comes to it, and carbon capture takes off and I think it might just be burying the problem – then there are other ways of extracting it.
  • They will say that the opencast will not adversely effect the environmen

  •  What an absolute load of utter rubbish. The layers of soil and rock have taken millions of years to form, they will be dumped back in no pariticular order when UK coal have finished. Industrial scale opencast coal mining is relatively new, we are not fully aware of the long term environmental effects but one thing that I am sure of is that it will have an negative impact on biodiversity in the region. It is impossible to move an entire habitat, abiotic factors will not be the same in the new location, succession (the gradual increase in biodiversity over time) will have to restart. UK coal want to relocate mature ponds so they can mine underneath them. You don’t have to be a great crested newt, a mayfly or a Biology lecturer to know that it will never work.

  • They will say that the opencast will create jobs.

  •  This is true – fixed term contract jobs that will be disappear just as quickly as the coal does. UK coal will also bring their own staff, which will do nothing for the local economy. We need long term investment in new technology and renewables that will create skilled, long term jobs for the future in the region. 
  • They will say that they spend millions on improving the roads. That amounts so another roundabout to allow trucks and heavy machinery to turn into the coal field. 
  • The last thing we need is another roundabout 200 yds from a one with 5 exits, they only vehicles that would ever turn right at this ‘road improvment’ would be those going to the Stanley area, the road has recently been widened and is now fine without a roundabout. The people who will be infuriated by the roundabout would be commuters who will face further potential delay when driving into Gateshead/Newcastle from the Consett area.

But really it doesn’t matter what highly paid executives and lawyers from UK Coal say. We the people of the local area must fight the appeal as effectively as we fought original application. 

The Pont Valley Network were not set up to oppose the opencast. The Network will fight UK Coals appeal with a the relentless tenacity required but the Network existed before this application was made and  it will exist for long after the outcome of the appeal is decided.

The Pont Valley Network is a group of individuals who put countless hours of their own time into all sorts of activities in the valley; From stimulating young minds to exercising old bodies and from Archaeology to Zoology. Tourists are visiting the valley and walking, the Coast to Coast cycle route overlooks the site. People passing though bringing not only money but also an appreciation of the beauty of the landscape that some of us, who have overlooked the valley all of our lives may sometimes take for granted. I use the phrase ‘countless hours‘ loosely because time freely given can be counted. A capitalist must have coined the phrase ‘time is money’ A Volunteer Investment and Value Audit puts a value in pounds on this freely given time and the time given by volunteers is worth far more to the community 10p per tonne of coal which amounts to scant compensation for an assault on the landscape. 

After the open-cast coal mine proposed at Bradley, Co. Durham was unanimously rejected in February UK:Coal has submitted an appeal to the planning authority.

So now, in what may seem like an very unusual call to arms: If you think that ‘the market should decide on these matters’ then join us (who may think otherwise) in trying to prevent the senseless intrusion into an area of ecological and economic significance appeal will start on Tuesday 25th October 2011 and last 16 days. The original application hearing took an afternoon to reject their environmentally damaging workings.

The Pont Valley Network will be speaking against the appeal on the grounds that it will have a negative affect on the area, increase vehicle movements, destroy local heritage sites, kill great crested newts (a protected species), remove biodiversity, harm local people’s health and the mine will only be 150m from a primary school.

If you support this objection to the open cast mining, please sign this petition here

Coal is our heritage not our future.

REFERENCES AND FURTHER READING:

Coal Action , Pont Valley Network

 The Northern Echo on Coal Company Appeal

http://www.pontvalley.net/

Gobal Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Succession, Biodiversity and Coal,  Liam Carr.

The Coal-ition , Liam’s Blog , Liam Carr

Pont Valley Objection Petition

The Black Stuff was our Heritage, Green is our Future Think Left

Download Voluteer Investment and Audit Document here:

Coal was our Heritage, Green is our Future

Black was our Heritage: Green is our Future

By Pam

Green were the Valleys, Black were the Slag-Heaps

Oct 21st 2011 is 45 years on from Aberfan disaster: It is an apt time to reflect on Mining as a Heritage for Socialists. But is it really the future?

Men dug anthracite, that Black Stuff out of the coalmines, but it was not just coal which came from those mines – so did Trade Unions and British Socialism. It was Tredegar miner Aneurin Bevan, who led miners to socialism, admired by many and loved for his NHS. Another miner, socialist favourite Dennis Skinner worked  as a miner for 20 years in Clay Cross, Derbyshire. There is no doubt that the Labour Party’s heart came from the miners, and their comradeship.

The conditions the miners endured below ground were horrendous, thick dust breathed in leading to pneumoconiosis and other respiratory diseases. Mines  were owned by profiteers, who were not adverse to cost cutting and risk taking, which meant deathly pit accidents were feared and witnessed. One of these happened on my grandfather’s shift, in a Pit in the Rhymney Valley, not far from Tredegar. He was lucky to survive; many did not.

But it is the words of the grandmother I never knew whose words haunt me. Seven sons survived to adulthood. Her best hopes were that they were to go to war; she knew the alternative was to go down the mines. She’d lost enough loved ones that way. She wasn’t prepared to risk more. So, they went to war – and they all came home.

The comradeship of men who worked below ground, each dependent on one another for their very survival, was so strong. Never frightened to stand up for the rights of the working class, they were the enemy of the parasitic-over-privileged. So it was then, as it is now –  the fear of the loss of that privilege and wealth accumulated from others’ toil and sweat, generates the lengths that those in power will go to, – the history of silencing those who resisted or spoke out, is violent and bloody.

We can read here of rebellions, uprisings and strikes in South Wales. One example reported was on :

“November 4, 1839, Chartists from the valleys converged on Newport. They marched down Stow Hill, and at least 22 were shot dead by the army during a disturbance at the Westgate Hotel. The eight leaders were sentenced to death, which was commuted to imprisonment or transportation. Queen Victoria knighted the mayor who ordered the random execution.” 

As I child, I listened to tales of the Valleys, and the one I remember was about Winston Churchill. He, yet another very privileged man turned his wrath on the miners of South Wales.  In 1911, as Home Secretary, Winston Churchill sent in troops against British Citizens.

“There was open fighting between workmen and the police, shops and other properties were destroyed. After the rioting, the Home Secretary, Winston Churchill, sent troops into the area to keep the peace. They stayed there for weeks and this made him unpopular in the area for many years. The workers were on strike until October 1911 when they were forced to return on the owners’ terms and conditions.”

My own memory, is being horrified,  as a child in 1966, 21st October when the News came of a slag heap slipping onto a school in Aberfan South Wales, burying a whole generation. I visited Aberfan, a few years ago, the saddest place, forever haunted and grieving for a lost generation.

  • In total, 144 people were killed – 116 of them children. The last body was recovered nearly a week after the disaster happened.
  • The National Coal Board said abnormal rainfall had caused the coal waste to move. 
  • The Inquiry of Tribunal later found that the NCB was wholly to blame and should pay compensation for loss and personal injuries.
  • The NCB and Treasury refused to accept full financial responsibility for the tragedy so the Aberfan Disaster Fund had to contribute £150,000 towards removing the remaining tip that overlooked the village. 
  • This was finally repaid in 1997 on the instigation of Ron Davies, the then Secretary of State for Wales.  

Maggie Thatcher knew that the miners’ plight had formed socialism, and she knew to break the heart of socialism, she had to break the miners. Arthur Scargill played into her hands, the future of the coal industry was inevitable. Lord Kinnock speaks and tells us how this was planned here:

The miner’s strike of 1984 – 1985, culminated in victory for Maggie Thatcher, the disintegration of the Trade Unions, and the beginning of a long era where the rich profited, unemployment soared, and many families lived in poverty with little hope.

The loss of the coal industry went straight the heart of socialism, it was mourned by the membership who saw no alternative. The move to the right in the political arena. Arthur Scargill had alienated so many. After years of Thatcher, and the disappointing loss in 1992  Labour lost its roots, and Tony Blair saw a Labour Party desperate to regain power and took the opportunity. Labour continued in the wilderness of neo-Liberalism, oversaw an ever widening gap between rich and poor, and the working class now have no-one to represent them.

While writing this article, four men lost their lives, in a tragic pit accident having become trapped 90m (295ft) below ground  in the flooded Gleision Colliery near Pontardawe (Swansea Valley) on 15th September 2011 Think Left are saddened to learn that more lives are being  lost below ground, and our thoughts and compassion go to the families of these four men, to the survivors, to the communities, and to those who tried in vain to rescue them. These deaths did not initiate this article, which was already being written .. but for them and others, it will be concluded.

RIP : Charles Breslin, 62, David Powell, 50,

Garry Jenkins, 39,  and Phillip Hill, 45.


Where are we Now? Have we Moved on?

Riots in London and other inner cities mirror the unrest in the mines in 19th century. Still those in power seek to silence.

We face another crisis.  The energy-rich oil, which the west has come to depend on, is running out. It is now predicted that there will be an Oil Crunch, the oil reserves will have peaked by 2015 … and if we to avert wars, poverty, unemployment… we must face up  to it.

Is coal the answer?

There are arguments that the coal beneath our feet – and there is plenty – may be the answer to our energy needs. The environmental and climate effects of continuing to mine coal would be catastrophic.  Many countries have depended on fossil fuels, which are worth hundreds of billions of dollars each year. Even with proposed Carbon Capture and Storage methods, which might be adopted in future, there would only be a 70 to 80% reduction in emissions and  it would require a great deal of extra energy to be supplied for the process. Indeed, it is doubtful with the extra costs of disposal of waste whether it would be financially viable at all. If CCS is developed, the extra cost of disposal of carbon dioxide captured must be considered and until CCS is commercially viable, any newly commissioned coal-fired power station would be adding more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

In extracting coal and utilising coal, we have to consider several factors:

  1. How to remove acid creating gases (sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides)
  2. Reducing carbon emissions.
  3. Economic feasibily
  4. Risk to workers
  5. Damage to the environment, visibly and to wildlife
  6. Long term energy
  7. Employment

Acid Gases

The removal of acid creating gases such as sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from emissions from coal fired power stations comes at a cost; funds which if diverted into setting up renewable energy projects would be a better investment in the long run, with much lower maintenance costs.

The latest iteration of IGCC is the FutureGen project, proposed by a public-private consortium. Touted as “the world’s first near-zero emission coal-fueled power plant,” it’s set to be built (pending federal approval) at Mattoon, Illinois, at a cost of nearly $2 billion. The project’s backers claim they can deliver 99 percent sulfur and ash removal, 90 percent mercury removal, and low nitrogen oxide production. Plus — and this is what gets everybody’s attention — the plant supposedly will capture carbon, too.

Controlling the toxic pollutants should be doable; the techniques involved are fairly well understood, if pricey. The coal’s sulfur content will be converted to hydrogen sulfide and ultimately to marketable elemental sulfur. Mercury will be captured in a bed of activated carbon, which will then be landfilled or reprocessed to extract the mercury for storage or sale. Lead, arsenic, and other heavy metals will be removed by water scrubbing and captured in the plant’s water-treatment system. Ash will be captured as molten slag or light fly ash and landfilled. Ideally the leftover chemicals you mention will be safely burned off in the combustion process.

Reducing Carbon Emissions:

“More challenging will be the stated goal of capturing 90 percent of FutureGen’s carbon dioxide, which is a clean emission only if we can figure out what to do with what we capture. Some carbon compounds can be sold for industrial use, but the main idea is to inject CO2 into subterranean oil or gas reservoirs or porous rock formations. This technology is still in its infancy — as of late 2009 not even a dozen significant projects were under way worldwide. Risks include slow leakage of stored gas plus the occasional full-on blowout”

Global warming and the melting of the ice-caps are indeed a major concern, and  while  some of the proposed technological  processes regarding reducing air-borne pollution  from coal power stations (such as CCS currently under review) would reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, it would not remove it entirely. Furthermore, carbon dioxide is not the only greenhouse gas which emanates  from the process of coal mining  and energy production from it.

 There will also be the costs and dangers of carbon dioxide storage when it is developed.  If they use spent oil fields for storage they will have to provide a pipe-line many miles out under the sea. Consideration must also be given to methane. The unpredictability of the release of methane from working seams, and particularly with regard to safety of underground mines and the risk of explosive gases being released. The climate-warming effect of methane is 15 times that of carbon dioxide.

“Fugitive emissions are unintended emissions, (including both carbon dioxide and methane) that arise during the production, processing, transport, transmission of fossil fuels such as black coal, oil, and natural gas or liquefied natural gas (LPG)

Fugitive emissions arise during the coal production/extraction process where previously trapped methane and carbon dioxide gas is released into the atmosphere as coal seams are mined. The level of fugitive emissions varies from mine to mine. Factors that influence the amount of fugitive emissions from a coal-mine include geology, depth and type of mine, amount and type of gas contained in the coal and whether all gas is automatically released or a portion is retained in the coal.

The problem with fugitive emissions is not new for coal mining firms. Methane is wholly combustible when in the mine and therefore a safety risk. Most coal companies will drain as much methane gas from coal seams before mining commences to prevent the risk of outbursts and control gas concentrations as mining progresses. In underground mines, once mining commences the workspace is continually ventilated to dilute any methane present to safe levels. This is often referred to as ventilation air methane and is typically vented to the atmosphere.”

Economic Feasibility

Economically, the cost of disposal of these pollutants must be taken into the equation.  There are so many who have a vested interest in fossil fuels that persuading them is no mean task. However, common sense tells us that re-opening the coal mines is not a solution for any one other than the power companies who want a quick centralised fix…their profits would dissipate with the adoption of a distributed network of microgeneration and other renewables.  If we take everything into account, coal is not cheap. Coal requires construction of pits and power stations, ongoing transport of coal with associated Greenhouse Gas emissions. Miners and power workers to be paid and compensated for health problems. I have concerns as to whether all health and safety  concerns would be adequately funded.  There are also environmental costs and slag heaps that would have to be cleared, made safe and landscaped. There would also be conservation cost with the destruction of ecosystems.

Compare all this with the one-off costs of construction of a wind turbine or solar panels, after which there are simply the costs of maintenance. Wars in the middle East have been fought over fossil fuels , but we must face up to the fact that oil is running out , and unless we do so we will all lost this war on want. Jeremy Leggett warns us that the Oil Crunch is coming very soon, before 2015.

From July 2010, Bloomberg reports that the global subsidies for fossil fuels dwarf that for renewables tenfold.

Global subsidies for fossil fuels dwarf support given to renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power and biofuels, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said.

Governments last year gave $43 billion to $46 billion of support to renewable energy through tax credits, guaranteed electricity prices known as feed-in tariffs and alternative energy credits, the London-based research group said today in a statement. That compares with the $557 billion that the International Energy Agency last month said was spent to subsidize fossil fuels in 2008.

“One of the reasons the clean energy sector is starved of funding is because mainstream investors worry that renewable energy only works with direct government support,” said Michael Liebreich, chief executive of New Energy Finance. “This analysis shows that the global direct subsidy for fossil fuels is around ten times the subsidy for renewables.”

Risks to Workers and Communities:

The dangers of mining as an occupation are well known, and  the  health risks extensive and even if risk is minimised, it cannot be eradicated. Furthermore, there are unknown dangers in disturbing previously worked seams. The risk of causing old workings to collapse is difficult to gauge. The risk of explosion and flood is ever present. Use of coal in the home has direct and negative effects on childhood growth.

Science Daily (Feb. 8, 2011) — Children raised in homes using indoor coal for cooking or heating appear to be about a half-inch shorter at age 36 months than those in households using other fuel sources, according to a report posted online that will appear in the June print issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Ed Miliband consulted with opponents to the Kingsnorth Power station, and as a result , the plan was wisely shelved. Please refer to this article from Think Left where this was discussed.:

Soaking up The Sun, Think Left

Long Term Energy

Diverting subsidies and investment away from fossil fuels and nuclear fuels towards major renewables will not only ensure sustainability, but in the long term it will be more economically cost effective. Consideration should be given to harnessing more energy from the sun. It  has  been shown that the cost of photovoltaic technology  is much cheaper than widely believed. Falling prices of Solar PV Panels means that electricity generated by solar PV systems could cost the same as that produced by conventional methods as early as 2020, with some countries achieving this by 2013. Consideration should be given also to harness solar energy from equatorial areas, the world’s deserts. A new national and international grid of high voltage direct current (HVDC), with the cables buried underground and under oceans could connect renewables together, securing continuity of supply and redistributing energy around the world, without polluting the planet.

Reconsideration should be given to tidal power harnessed in the Severn estuary, by a tidal lagoon which would generate both energy and jobs.  In addition, in the Orkneys,  as  written in The New Scientist 20/9/11

“Off the northernmost tip of Scotland, where the turbulent waters of the Atlantic Ocean meet those of the North Sea, sits a chain of 70 mostly uninhabited islands collectively known as Orkney. Best known for its wildlife and Neolithic historical sites, it isn’t the first place you think of as a centre for cutting-edge science. Yet it is at the heart of what could soon be a renewable energy renaissance.

The strong tides around these islands have led the European Union-funded European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) to use Orkneys’ waters as the world’s largest test bed for a renewable energy source that has been stalled for years: tidal power”

What of The Wider Environment?

Open cast mining disrupts the landscape. Mining it is noisy and ugly, and polluting. A report from  The Manila Times on (September 16 th 2011)

Washable Coal is washed in the Coal Washing Plant to get rid of contaminants, with a 60 percent average recovery. So where do the washed contaminants go, dare you ask?

The residents said coastal resources including mangroves have died or have been contaminated by wastes coming from the coal washing plant a wide area of their seas, on which residents depend for their livelihood, is slowly being destroyed because hectares of their mangroves and seagrass are slowly dying.

These have been contaminated the water and marine resources. Silt has covered their coastline and mangroves as waste coming from the company’s coal washing plant goes directly to the sea because the siltation pond has not been operational for a long time. 

The washing plant removes soil and rock coal before it is utilized or marketed.

 Mangrove trees have already died because the silt that has covered the waters has reached more than a foot deep.

UK Coal want to start a surface mine (opencast) in the Pont valley. This area comprises both coniferous and deciduous woodland and one less common type of habitat; ponds. Ponds are forgotten havens of biodiversity. Hedgerows got a bit of publicity a few years back, people have camped in trees to save them from road expansion but to my knowledge there has never been a Save Our Ponds campaign. In the planning application for opencast UK Coal said that they would relocate several mature ponds to a location in the valley that does not lie over a coal seam. Recovery would take decades. It would be impossible for plant species and invertebrate populations to be relocated effectively and the gradual increase in biodiversity over time would need to start all over again. This is known as secondary succession.

In consideration of these factors, I conclude that all of our energy needs can be satisfied without the use of fossil fuels of any kind, and without nuclear fuels. We should be actively minimising use, and the government should be facilitating and encouraging this.  Research such as this at Oregon University indicates how much wasted energy might be harnessed.

We have so much to thank past miners for, – for our heritage which brought us socialism, votes and rights for working people. We should not feel that we are our turning our backs on the miners by now looking for alternatives to coal. We have not betrayed them; on the contrary, we owe their descendants a clean future and a sustainable future. Miners led the way for us. Science leads the way  forward. Working together in solidarity, we must not accept that we can risk our planet to satisfy profiteers. Why should working men risk their lives so others can line their pockets? Why should we live in a dirty world? Why risk more wars over oil? Investment in green industries, homes and energy can lead to employment which is safe, clean and ultimately more financially viable.

The Labour Party therefore must….

  • Recognise that the supply of oil will peak in the near future and we must act to avoid a total supply collapse.
  • Ensure a Labour government  will invest in green energy, not fossil fuels and nuclear.
  •  Nationalise  utilities and transport. These should be at the heart of Labour Manifesto.
  • Seek to provide full employment as a priority where there are now areas of high unemployment, such  as former coal mining areas by provision of green-related technologies such as manufacture of Photovoltaic panels, wind turbines, tidal/wave turbines etc.
  • Invest in Science in our Universities and our Industries.

References and Further Reading:

BBC Health Miner’s Lung Disease:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/conditions/miners-lung-disease.shtml

Miners Strike 1984-1985

Rebellions, Uprisings and Strikes in South Wales

CLEAN COAL TECHNOLOGY, Factsheet

CLIMATE CHANGE, CARBON CAPTURE AND STORAGE

Soaking up The Sun, Think Left

High voltage direct current (HVDC) Think Left

Tidal power harnessed in the Severn estuary Think Left

ABERFAN BBC

The Miners Next Step and  General Strike of 1926

Fossil Fuel Subsidies dwarf renewables Bloomberg

Is Clean Coal Really Clean?

Kingsnorth power station

The Coal-ition Liam Carr

Succession, Genetic Diversity and Coal Liam Carr

Indoor Coal and impact on childhood growth

Wasted Heat Energy and thermoelectricity – Oregon

Fuel Cell Power. Energy for the Future, and comments on white Paper

Pollution of an Island by Coal Washing Manilla Times:

Download document on Fugitive Methane Emissions in Coal Mining from: The International Council of Mining and Metals

Credit Graphics: @Dreamstime Petrafler

Microwave Ovens a Key to Energy Production from Wasted Heat

We are facing an oil crisis, we all know by now. We cannot hide. We cannot continue to live like this. More investment in renewable energy is essential.

But we should consider how much energy we are wasting in every thing we do. Yes, don’t leave the telly on standby, and remind the kids not to leave the lights on. But what about the heat on the bonnet of your car? In fact, a car only uses about one third of the energy supplied. Factories waste phenomenal amounts. But this could all change because of skutterudites.

ScienceDaily (Sep. 21, 2011) — More than 60 percent of the energy produced by cars, machines, and industry around the world is lost as waste heat — an age-old problem — but researchers have found a new way to make “thermoelectric” materials for use in technology that could potentially save vast amounts of energy.

OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Thermoelectric generation of electricity offers a way to recapture some of the enormous amounts of wasted energy lost during industrial activities.

And it’s based on a device found everywhere from kitchens to dorm rooms: a microwave oven.

Chemists at Oregon State University have discovered that simple microwave energy can be used to make a very promising group of compounds called “skutterudites,” and lead to greatly improved methods of capturing wasted heat and turning it into useful electricity.

A tedious, complex and costly process to produce these materials that used to take three or four days can now be done in two minutes.

Most people are aware you’re not supposed to put metal foil into a microwave, because it will spark. But powdered metals are different, and OSU scientists are tapping into that basic phenomenon to heat materials to 1,800 degrees in just a few minutes — on purpose, and with hugely useful results.

This is an example of how investment in Science in our universities and in our industries can really help provide solutions to the crisis we face. We cannot hide our heads in the sand, we must face up to the Oil Crunch which is imminent. But we can do it without fossil fuels, without nuclear fuels and without risking our children’s future or the planet.

Labour must address this.. We cannot trust the Tories. They are not “The Greenest Government ever” Far from it. Their priorities are their own short term interests and those of their friends.

Think Left’s priorities for a Labour government should include:

(Credit: Graphic courtesy of Oregon State University)

Science Daily: Energy Production from Wasted Heat

Renationalise the Railways (Julian Gilbert) Think Left

Renewable Energy, Specifically HVDC Power Grids (Dr. Sue Davies) Think Left

Soaking up the Sun: Ed Miliband, the Coalition and Climate Change Think Left

Peak Oil, Neo-Liberalism and Think Left (Dr Sue Davies) Think Left

Jeremy Leggett: The Oil Crunch U Tube Video