Feeding the Greed.

Greed is alive and well in the United States, in spite of the carnage that it has already caused.  Just recently, several homes were carried off of their foundations when a holding pond full of ash from a coal plant broke open.  This type of ash has been shown to be high in heavy metals, and calls have been made to sequester the waste product in isolated tanks.

But, because ash from coal-fired power plants constitutes the second-largest waste stream in the nation, behind solid waste, the utilities have managed to keep regulation light.  So, we get our power more cheaply, while incurring hidden costs that will not be known for generations, perhaps.  Substantially reducing power consumption in the United States is never even discussed, even though we are the most inefficient user of energy on the planet.

Consumption of energy generates wealth for a certain few, and those few are very powerful.  So they will resist efforts to reduce the amount of wealth that they can make in a year.  But, unless we begin to use some of that wealth to make things better for everyone, things are going to get a lot worse for everyone, even the rich and powerful.

Generating electricity using coal creates 129 million tons of ash, or combustion by-product, as it is called in the industry, every year.  Increasing coal use will increase this waste stream, which is already being handled at the absolute minimum cost.  Substantial evidence indicates that this waste is extremely toxic.  As storage costs increase, accidental releases are sure to increase.

Using energy always has costs, which are not always obvious.  The ‘clean’ hydro-electric damns of the American West have turned out to be environmental nightmares, destroying fish runs, impounding silt, and affecting aquifer renewal.  Using less energy to do more is the only way that we are going to be able to avoid a true energy crisis, one where the use of energy is so destructive to the environment that it cannot be allowed.

Simply maintaining our consumption levels to enrich a few wealthy individuals can not be sustained.  Public outcry is needed to overwhelm the power that wealth can throw at avoiding change.  We have got to stop feeding the Greed, and start putting Greed to work for us, instead of the few.  We don’t have to prevent anyone from making money, we just need to reduce the rate at which they are accumulating new wealth, because that wealth is coming out of our future.

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