I was in a relatively good environmental mood today. The heat finally broke in St. Louis and most of what I’d read or heard today had been positive. But, reading this article posted on AlterNet, was the equivalent of watching The Basketball Diaries after . . . well, anything that doesn’t make you want to kill yourself.
The article, “Big Banks Are Selling Us Out on Climate Change”, is one of the most frustrating pieces I’ve read recently. I think Tara Lohen knew I was having a good day and just wanted to kill my buzz! Anywho, the gist is that the two biggest banks in the U.S., Citi and Bank of America, are financing crazy amounts of heinous coal development, which counters their efforts to green themselves and their businesses on such a scale that the latter seems laughable. I’m not beating around the bush here, and neither is Lohen. From her piece:
“Global leaders are putting their heads together to come up with solutions. Across the world, countries and municipalities are passing legislation to limit GHG emissions; people are cutting consumption; new technologies are being developed to further alternative energy sources. And yet, in the United States, the coal industry has us poised to move in the absolute wrong direction. Right now, there are about 150 new coal-fired power plants on the drawing board. The amount of polluting emissions they will release is staggering — between 600 million and 1.1 billion tons of CO2 emissions every year, for the next 50 years. And this, according to Rainforest Action Network (RAN), will basically negate every other effort currently being considered to fight climate change.”
Fah-bulous, and it gets better. Also, according to Bill McKibben, who apparently wrote the first book on global warming for a general audience:
“The final question as to whether we can address it in serious fashion is whether the coal that is in the ground stays in the ground,” said McKibben. “We already know that we are going to burn all the oil we can get our hands on because we have gotten our hands on most of it and it is intensely valuable. Coal, on the other hand, is the question. If the 150 power plants get built, there is no use talking about compact fluorescent light bulbs or mass transit or any of those other things … we’ll have no hope of averting climate change short of catastrophic proportions.”
What the hell? The article gives a list of major coal projects financed by both banks, but one to note is an investment by Citi:
“In 2006 they gave $4 billion to Peabody Energy, the world’s largest coal mining company, which has been ravaging Dine and Hopi lands for 40 years, taking 2.5 million gallons of water out of their desert watershed each day and leaving behind a trail of toxic waste.”
Peabody is based in St. Louis for those of you who don’t know. Yeah us!
The best part of the article is called “The stupidity factor” and details how ginormously idiotic this country’s behavior is in regards to all aspects of coal. Not one piece of evidence supports its continued use, which is substantial because no is currently being charged for the environmental damage its mining and use has on the planet. Lohen ends with this:
“Fortunately, we have the choice to move this country in the right direction by pressuring Citi and BOA to fund clean, instead of dirty, energy. If those banks took the $141 billion they plan to spend on building new coal plants, and instead invested it in energy efficient measures, they could reduce electricity demand by 19 percent by 2025.”
I’m not holding my breath, which, incidentally, will probably kill me too.
Originally published on green|rising