Hilarious Coen Brothers New "Clean Coal" ad

The Reality Campaign launched a hilarious new ad directed by the Coen brothers pointing out how empty and ridiculous the coal indsutry’s “clean coal” propaganda campaign is.

Enjoy! And pass it on to your friends for a good laugh.

Here’s 10 Harsh Realities of the US Coal Industry:

A typical-sized 500 megawatt coal-fired electricity plant in the United States puts out each year:

1. 3.7 million tons of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main greenhouse gas, and is the leading cause of global warming. There are no regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S.

2. 10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide. Sulfur dioxide (SOx) is the main cause of acid rain, which damages forests, lakes and buildings.

3. 10,200 tons of nitrogen oxide. Nitrogen oxide (NOx) is a major cause of smog, and also a cause of acid rain.

4. 500 tons of small particles. Small particulates are a health hazard, causing lung damage. Particulates smaller than 10 microns are not regulated, but may be soon.

5. 220 tons of hydrocarbons. Fossil fuels are made of hydrocarbons; when they don’t burn completely, they are released into the air. They are a cause of smog.

6. 720 tons of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas and contributor to global warming.

7. 125,000 tons of ash and 193,000 tons of sludge from the smokestack scrubber. A scrubber uses powdered limestone and water to remove pollution from the plant’s exhaust. Instead of going into the air, the pollution goes into a landfill or into products like concrete and drywall. This ash and sludge consists of coal ash, limestone, and many pollutants, such as toxic metals like lead and mercury.

8. 225 pounds of arsenic, 114 pounds of lead, 4 pounds of cadmium, and many other toxic heavy metals. Mercury emissions from coal plants are suspected of contaminating lakes and rivers in northern and northeast states and Canada. In Wisconsin alone, more than 200 lakes and rivers are contaminated with mercury. Health officials warn against eating fish caught in these waters, since mercury can cause birth defects, brain damage and other ailments.

9. Trace elements of uranium. All but 16 of the 92 naturally occurring elements have been detected in coal, mostly as trace elements below 0.1 percent (1,000 parts per million, or ppm). A study by DOE’s Oak Ridge National Lab found that radioactive emissions from coal combustion are greater than those from nuclear power production.

10. A 500 megawatt coal-fired electrical plant burns 1,430,000 tons of coal, uses 2.2 billion gallons of water and 146,000 tons of limestone a year.



“3. 10,200 tons of nitrogen oxide. Nitrogen oxide (NOx) is a major cause of smog, and also a cause of acid rain.“Nitrogen oxides (NOx): Nitrogen oxides are byproducts of nitrous oxide from fossil fuel combustion. They are called criteria pollutants (along with carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nonmethane volatile organic compounds, lead, and particulates). They contribute to acid rain, smog, and respiratory problems, and have an indirect impact on global climate change.

5. 220 tons of hydrocarbons. Fossil fuels are made of hydrocarbons; when they don’t burn completely, they are released into the air. They are a cause of smog.”

Smog (O3) is not only poisonous but also an important greenhouse gas formed by NOx and hydrocarbons…adding more heat..


It is possible to claim coal is clean, but ONLY IF one overlooks all the bad things that derive from burning coal. This completely ludicrous train of thought is akin to the argument used in the ‘What have the Romans Ever Done For Us?’ scene from Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian’. Of course in ‘Life of Brian’, they are denying the string of benefits derived from the Romans [the dis-benefits are glossed-over for humorous effect], whereas the coal lobby are silent regarding the wide range of coal’s disadvantages.


But of course, the denialists are always getting things backwards and of course it’s no accident.


Since we can get electricity from sources without coal’s numerous disadvantages, we had better embrace efficient technology to reduce demand and develop coal free-electricity generation as a matter of great urgency. One solution could be fast reactors - http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/02/12/integral-fast-reactors-for-the-mas...


For anyone who might dispute that harm from pollution is ‘done’ to anyone. The CO2, and other pollutants are distributed far from the power station customers who benefit from the electricity. In some cases, the so-called ‘benefits’ are distributed globally.

Furthermore, because of the atmospheric lifetime of CO2, the CO2 will continue to ‘benefit’ humans for thousands of years in the future [if there are any of us left in a cooking world] , after all burning of coal has ceased. And it seems reasonable to anticipate that the local heavy-metal and other toxic substances will remain in the soil and watercourses for decades, perhaps centuries or millennia after emission and deposition.


Fate of fossil fuel CO2 in geologic time - David Archer



J. Hansen et al. 2007: ‘Dangerous human-made interference with climate’ The fraction of CO2 remaining in the air, after emission by fossil fuel burning, declines rapidly at first, but 1/3 remains in the air after a century and 1/5 after a millennium. (Atmos. Chem. Phys. 7, 2287-2312, 2007). Published: 7 May 2007.



Millennial Atmospheric Lifetime of Anthropogenic CO2 - David Archer