[Coral-List] Eugene Shin and 23 coal power plants

Thomas Webler twebler at seri-us.org
Sun Sep 9 10:39:32 EDT 2012

Although some on this list may protest this conversation diverting from
corals to climate change, the two issues are, as we all know, completely
intertwined.  And, as I've argued before on this list, all scientists have
a professional and moral responsibility to be able to speak authoritatively
about climate change.

For this reason I need to reply to Eugene Shin's comment about the
hypocrisy of 23 new coal plants in Germany.  I don't claim to be an expert
on German energy politics, but I know a little about it and I spent some
time this morning researching serious news sites for this claim that
Germany is building 23 new coal plants.  The citation given by Eugene Shin
comes from a right wing blog.  A score of other right wing blogs have
repeated this claim, but I could find nothing in NYTimes, Reuters, BBC, or
Der Spiegel. We ought to cite credible news sources not politicalized

It is true that Minister Peter Altmaier did say that Germany should
consider returning to coal and that Germany did open a new coal fired power
plant.  And it's true that coal is bad for climate change, bad for corals.

The truth is that Germany is trying to restructure it's power economy all
by itself.  It is closing all its nuclear power plants, building lots of
solar and wind, and reducing energy consumption of every building and home
by 40%.  Reduced consumption is a key part of Germany's plan.

The problem is that it is very difficult for one country to decide upon its
own that it will embrace additional costs for power.  This is particularly
true for Germany because it has such a strong manufacturing sector.  The
new coal power plant they just brought online operates more like the demand
driven gas fired power plants that most of the world uses to even out the
spikes in power demand.  It switches off and on quickly in response to
demand changes.  It is not intended to ONLY supply base load power, as coal
and nuclear plants do most everywhere in the world.

I don't think it is fair to put too much on the shoulders of the Germans,
who took on an incredible challenge - alone! - and then find it's harder to
do than they thought it might be.  I also think it is highly unlikely that
Germany will build 23 coal plants.  Coal power is declining int he USA  due
to cheap natural gas from fracking.  Once fracking starts in earnest in
Poland and France, Germany will convert its coal to natural gas, just like
we are doing in the States.

No carbon fuel is good for corals, but if anything, the German case
emphasizes how important it is for the world to cooperate on transitioning
to a post carbon world.

Thomas Webler
Research Fellow
Social & Environmental Research Institute
Suite 404
278 Main Street
Greenfield MA 01370 USA


> Message: 1
> Date: Fri, 7 Sep 2012 12:36:18 -0400
> From: Eugene Shinn <eshinn at marine.usf.edu>
> Subject: [Coral-List] Crazy Ideas to Save Coral Reefs
> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Message-ID: <a06230900cc6fcf77d639@[]>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii" ; format="flowed"
> Thanks you Dennis  for describing the problems with LEED and the
> problems of being totally Green. There seems to be a lot of hypocrisy
> associated with greenness.  Imagine my surprise when I read, "In
> mid-August, Germany opened a new 2200MW coal-fired power station near
> Cologne, and virtually not a word has been said about it. This dearth
> of reporting is even more surprising when one considers that Germany
> has said building new coal plants is necessary because electricity
> produced by wind and solar has turned out to be unaffordably
> expensive and unreliable."  If you read the rest in this website you
> will learn that Germany is building an additional 23 new coal fired
> power plants.
> http://netrightdaily.com/2012/09/germanys-new-renewable-energy-policy/#ixzz25nlGAhQ0
> This is why I commented that, "what we as divers is just a drop in
> the bucket in the grand scheme of things"..But keep trying, Gene
> --

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