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Dirty tactics on clean coal
March 6, 2009, 6:50 pm
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A little bit like Singapore’s ‘New water’, it’s pretty evident some marketing thought went into the term ‘clean coal’.

Once you look at it, you can’t avoid the oxymoron – coal doesn’t have a great reputation (unless you’ve made a lot of money out of it).

Coal is something bad kids get at Christmas, a physical mark of lowliness in society (think chimney sweep), comes in black for an extra-evil look and more recently, taking the fall for the plethora of ills attributed to…cue dramatic music…climate change.

But by putting ‘clean’ in front of it, the game changes. Suddenly it sounds like a whole new, much better course of action. It’s okay, it’s clean.

Or so a lot of politicians were hoping you’d believe that…

This video was actually done by infamous film duo the Coen Brothers, to change perceptions of what clean coal actually is.

Most sources agree that clean coal is a broad term for types of technology – and as a measure against climate change it isn’t likely to be effective until around 2050.

Is it really a technology to discourage, though?

As long as we’re burning coal for energy, which will be for quite a while longer, we should be trying to reduce harmful side effects. I’m not sure about CO2 storage, but measures like filtering out toxic sulphur and burning coal more efficiently are worthwhile.

Just don’t make it your sole investment in being a bit more environmentally friendly.


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