Old King Coal

BEIJING — Every day, monitoring stations across the city measure air pollution to determine if the skies above this national capital can officially be designated blue. It is not an act of whimsy: with Beijing preparing to play host to the 2008 Olympic Games, the official Blue Sky ratings are the city’s own measuring stick for how well it is cleaning up its polluted air. Jim Yardley, 29 December 2007, The New York Times.

Too few seem to remember how the burning of fossil fuels, principally coal, can play havoc on the environment, if they did the promise of the restoration of the coal industry to its glory days in the United States would not be an ambition. If some of the visual news reports of 2006-07 Beijing, China are to be believed, it showed people walking about in surgical masks, vehicle restrictions enforced allowing only some to be operated on alternative days, respiratory problems actuality increased as air pollution becomes an everyday occurrence and concern. Is it responsible politics to promise a dyeing industry an enlightened future to crave votes when to do so is so clearly irresponsible both for the electorates health and the health of the nation. Especially when there are so many green energy options available worldwide, with more being brought on-line every day, I realize new is hard, old has a track record that is easy to follow but can lead to a down turn of all kinds of ills if continued to be pursued. A 1917 novel by Upton Sinclair, King Coal, that described the poor working and safety conditions in coal mining has not improved much since then, the picture of a days old baby in what looks like a small size industrial gas mask with the caption, ‘and a child shall lead them’ can have a ‘I told you so effect’, that can be so very hard to ignore…


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