by Chris Lyon, editor of Haynesville
Attention citizens of the world! Last week, representatives (official and symbolic) descended on Copenhagen, Denmark with one unified goal- to change the course of the global environmental decline. Now we are half-way through one of the biggest environmental rallies ever achieved, and those of us who cannot be there are holding our breath. Will the leaders of the world make a definitive motion towards environmental responsibility on the planet Earth? I certainly hope for not only slowing the decline, but reversing the trend altogether. Bill McKibben had it right when he told us “It can’t happen soon enough” and “We had to stop this train yesterday” when we interviewed him all those months ago for Haynesville. His interview- among others- really allowed us as filmmakers to get a handle on how bad things really are and how fixing rising emissions is not simply a problem in the United States, but in other developing countries as well- e.g. China and India- where as many as two new coal plants are opened a week to meet the growing energy demands.
It’s a common saying that seems to never change- “Now is the time” they say- or “Now more than ever” and I’m here to tell you that this is that time. A few more years of this unchecked, unfiltered growth and we will be toast. I want to take a detour from COP15 for a moment and reiterate why coal is such a bad energy source. First, it’s acquisition requires an invasive, destructive process of mining or mountaintop removal which destroys landscapes- literally wiping entire sections of mountain ranges off the face of the Earth and making that land inhospitable to vegetation. Second, it’s dirty- which means heavy metals like mercury, radioactive elements, carbon dioxide, etc. Many times these elements are “scrubbed out” to make them more “clean-” but it’s far from a perfect process. And as we dig deeper and deeper to less efficient forms of coal to fire our plants, the dirtier and dirtier the coal becomes. Third, when burned, coal has the single highest emissions rate of any fuel known to man. Coal factories are painfully inefficient, and difficult to start up and shut down with demand- which means they’re always on.
I lingered on coal so long because it is the world’s biggest environmental violator- and it is used in every country from the third world to the first-level superpowers. Other fuel sources must be discussed as well. Oil is being used for transportation when it has so many more uses- from computer chips to medical equipment- that it seems a little silly to be using oil to drive to the grocery store. The same song can be sung for biofuels like corn ethanol- using food for fuel- seriously? When so many starve on a daily basis from lack of simple nourishment?
I digress. Entire books and volumes have been dedicated to such arguments. The whole thing comes back to getting us on the right track. There is one available for us to set our sights on- it includes wind and solar as the ultimate in green technology. And who knows- perhaps a new technology that hasn’t been discovered yet. But this must happen today. Today. Today. Today. Because even if we start TODAY (I really mean it) it will take a minimum of 30 years to get us where we need to be by shutting down coal plants; replacing them with wind and solar; creating new, utility-scale storage solutions; and changing our existing vehicle fleets to a new energy source- perhaps simply electricity created by the cleanest sources of the future.
The ultimate story of Haynesville is how this huge discovery in Northwest Louisiana, USA effects the people on a micro and macro scale. On the macro scale, the natural gas there and around the world could provide a greener alternative to coal and oil as we transition to the new wave of energy devices for the future.
There is hope in Copenhagen- it’s a global recognition of the problem. Even if you aren’t present to scream at the top of your lungs in Denmark, your voice is needed here as well. Write you representatives, write the president or leader of your country.
This is important. Do your part. Save your grandchildren’s children’s children.