By Stanley Heller
An electric power plant in Bridgeport, CT has restored its #1 ranking, but sadly it’s not for anything good. The coal burning plant, Harbor Station, is again the biggest single producer of carbon dioxide in the state. The plant was #1 in 2010 and then started declining in rank as the plant was used less. Its ranking got as low as #10 in 2012. But in 2013 it was up to #3 after it had spewed 765,000 tons of CO2 into the air. Last year it sent 910,000 tons of the greenhouse gas into the air.
Now breathing in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is not at all dangerous. The deadly danger is the extraordinary effect carbon dioxide has on the greenhouse effect of our atmosphere. It’s increasing the effect sharply, warming the earth, warming the oceans, changing the world’s climates. The world passed a grim milestone in March. For the first time the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere passed 400 parts per million worldwide. The last time it was that high was about 800,000 years ago. 2014 was the warmest year on record world-wide in modern times. The first three months of this year were the warmest beginning of a year ever.
The coal plant is the worst offender, but it’s not the only problem. Two units owned by Bridgeport Energy spew out each year around half a millions tons of CO2 each. Nearby, Milford Power Company has two units that together sent out 1.3 million tons of the gas. When you burn fossil fuel you release a flood of global warming gas. The state of Connecticut, unfortunately, is committing itself to burning methane (more happily called “natural gas”) spending billions to bring in the fracked gas from out of state in huge new Spectra pipelines.
As a culture we’re in denial about climate change. Yes, there are speeches made about it and some small halting measures being taken, but nothing on the necessary scale. The nations of the world have said a temperature increase of 2 degrees is the absolute upper limit, but the Nobel Prize winning IPCC group has said we’re currently on a path for double that temperature rise. It’s coming not at some far distant date, but in just 85 years. The World Bank talked about what a 4 degree increase would be like a couple of years ago saying it would cause a “cascade of cataclysmic changes.” It would mean coastal cities like Bridgeport would be submerged. Average temperatures would go up 6 degres in the summer. On top of the “averages” there would be extreme heat waves. Think Connecticut cities sweltering at 120 degrees.
Already the warning signs are out. In 2013 the Philippines was hit by the strongest hurricane on record. This year a category five storm wrecked the country of Vanuatu. California is in the midst of a four year drought. We are entering the Sixth Age of great extinctions. In the tropics animal species are disappearing at 10,000 the normal rate.
On Sunday, May 31, 2015, hundreds will march in Hartford to protest our current ultra-dangerous path. Promoting Enduring Peace is a co-sponsor as is a whole list of environment, civic and labor groups.
We have to change our ways radically and soon. We need a crash program for wind and solar, strict, strict energy conservation, and cut backs in our energy gorging life styles. It’s not hysterical to say that human civilization and hundreds of millions of lives are in the balance.
Stanley Heller manages the website Bridgeport Act on Climate and is Secretary of Promoting Enduring Peace and host of “The Struggle” Videos News. He can be reached at mail@BridgeportAOC.com. Stanley Heller is also host of “The Struggle” TV News, www.TheStruggle.org.