Dr. Tim Flannery’s call on Premier John Brumby to stop Victoria’s proposed brown coal power station comes as public opposition mounts against the proposal to build a 600-megawatt plant in the Latrobe Valley.
As of last week, the Environment Protection Authority had received more than 4,000 submissions on the project, most of them objections. The authority said it had never received so many submissions for a project under assessment.
Dr. Flannery told the Sunday Age the future of coal was uncertain and the plant, costing A$750 million, would be waste of money. He said if the power station was approved, voters would not trust Mr. Brumby’s recent announcement to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020. ”You can build as much solar as you want, but if you build new brown coal power plants you will not reach your target,” Dr. Flannery said. ”This is a grossly polluting plant and it will be around for 50 years.”
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I would go further than Dr. Flannery and say fossil fuels (and nuclear) have no place in a world trying to combat climate change.
What the article does not mention is an oft overlooked additional problem with coal: the impact on human health. Take the report Coal’s Assault on Human Health by the Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) for instance.
The report takes a new look at the impacts of coal on the human body. Coal combustion releases mercury, particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide and other substances known to be hazardous to human health and the report looks at the cumulative harm inflicted by those pollutants on three major body organ systems: the respiratory system, the cardiovascular system and the nervous system. The report also considers coal’s contribution to global warming and the health implications of global warming.
Each step of the coal life-cycle – mining, transportation, washing, combustion and disposing of post-combustion waste – impacts human health. Coal combustion has been linked to these diseases/conditions: asthma exacerbations, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, stunted lung development, lung cancer, cardiac arrhythmias, acute myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, ischemic stroke and developmental delay. Coal combustion is also suspected of being a cause of asthma development.