150 Coal Plants Retired in Major Milestone Towards a Clean Energy Future
The Sierra Club and a growing coalition of local, regional and national allies announced yesterday the retirement of its 150th coal plant—a significant milestone in the ongoing campaign to move the country beyond coal no later than 2030. With the announcement that the Brayton Point Power Station in Massachusetts would retire by 2017, the campaign officially marked 150 coal plants that have announced plans to retire since 2010, spurring record increases in clean energy.
Pollution from burning coal contributes to four out of five of the leading causes of death, in addition to being a major cause of asthma attacks. According to the Clean Air Task Force, retiring these 150 dirty and outdated coal plants will help to save 4,000 lives every year, prevent 6,200 heart attacks every year and prevent 66,300 asthma attacks every year. Retiring these plants will also avoid $1.9 billion in health costs.
Members of the entertainment community heralded this victory for public health and our environment as a major step forward in protecting communities.
“The closure of the Brayton Point Power Station is a powerful example of how local action can have a global impact," said Michael R. Bloomberg, philanthropist and Mayor of New York City. "Over the last three years, action by individual communities—in partnership with the Sierra Club and Bloomberg Philanthropies—has led to the closure of 150 coal plants, one at a time. We will continue to support those who are on the ground working to close the nation's dirty coal plants, which kill 13,000 Americans every year and threaten the future of our planet."
“Plant by plant and community by community we are not only curbing our country’s carbon pollution, but we are also saving lives,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “By moving our country off of dirty, dangerous coal, we are creating new opportunities for clean energy and thousands of new American jobs to protect workers and public health. The transition from coal to clean energy can and will transform our economy by establishing a huge new sector of good jobs that power our communities without poisoning our children.”
As utilities and energy companies realize that coal is an increasingly bad investment, they are transitioning their resources to cleaner, renewable sources of energy like wind and solar. Today, the U.S. has more than 60,000 megawatts of installed wind capacity, enough to power the equivalent of 15 million American homes. States including Iowa, Kansas and South Dakota already get more than 20 percent of their energy from wind power.
“I’m so inspired to know that the U.S. is now leading the world in reducing carbon pollution—showing that we can stop climate disruption," said Sierra Club Ambassador Elle Macpherson. "As a mom and as an advocate, I’m happy to share the good news that we’re cutting our pollution and leading a global movement to protect our kids and our planet. Climate change isn’t just an environmental issues, it’s a humanitarian issue that leads to suffering around the world. It’s important for us to act now.”
Below, a new music video chronicles the efforts to reach the environmental milestone featuring indie group Nico Vega:
"This is the most significant advancement in our history thus far to help usher in a clean energy future for all," said activist Edward James Olmos. "I commend the Beyond Coal campaign for their work protecting families in low income communities who suffer the most from toxic, cancer-causing coal pollution."
"We must also continue to fight for good union jobs and a guaranteed livelihood for coal workers, who go to work every day to support their families and deserve safe and secure jobs," Olmos continued. "We can power our country without poisoning our children."
Solar is the fastest growing energy option in the U.S. The clean energy industry now employs nearly 200,000 Americans nationwide. The milestone of 150 coal plants retired shows that the country is at a turning point, moving away from old and outdated fossil fuel industries, and embracing the millions of good jobs that cleaner energy sources like wind and solar will create.
“It's amazing to see how many people from different backgrounds have come together to build this movement," said actor and environmental activist Ian Somerhalder. "It fills me with immense hope to witness our youth standing up for their future—young people recognize most that keeping the old, outdated energy is much like staying in diapers."
"Our diverse, creative, collective youth present the single greatest resource out there—we must continue to enable and support them to innovate and champion smarter, more sustainable energy solutions,” Somerhalder concluded.
Visit EcoWatch’s COAL page for more related news on this topic.
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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