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clean coal is sexy
May 22, 2005 6:12 AM   Subscribe

Sexy hard glistening hot miners bringing us clean coal technologies and liberating us from our friends in the mid-east. GE greenwashing at its best.
posted by tarantula (28 comments total)

 
here's jeffrey immelt to explain in person :D also in the wapo yesterday, oh and btw bruce sterling is on board!
posted by kliuless at 6:28 AM on May 22, 2005


Yes. That particular ad is a little too much, but you have to give them credit for imagination on the other two. I saw the dancing elephant one during regular tube-watching the other day and was charmed. It's advertising; we know it's full of ... coal ... but we can enjoy the effort.
posted by mmahaffie at 6:56 AM on May 22, 2005


GE is trying to make money on making things green or greener--what is your problem with that? This time, high gas prices may be the tipping point for the US really going green. Do you have a problem with that?
posted by ParisParamus at 7:02 AM on May 22, 2005


And after GE bought Enron's wind division, they've got loads of turbine designs to work with for photo ops.
posted by scruss at 7:13 AM on May 22, 2005


the "tipping point for the us really going green" is going to be the harnessing of advertising as an alternative energy source.
posted by muppetboy at 10:22 AM on May 22, 2005


Is GE working on a coal-powered car?

Coal is used to generate electricity, something for which oil-based gas is never used. Natural gas is sometimes used to generate electricity but it's hardly scarce -- in fact it's so abundant in various parts of the world that no one even bothers trying to extract about 95% of it.

So I'm a little confused as to how coal will save America from high gas prices (as PP implies will happen).
posted by clevershark at 10:24 AM on May 22, 2005


Something else this reminds me of -- this story in Mother Jones Magazine about a mountain which literally disappeared after being mined for coal. You see, mining today has little to do with the romantic notion of men with lights on their hardhats going down a deep shaft -- that's a very inefficient way to mine for coal. Strip-mining is where it's at nowadays -- blow up and bulldoze.

Of course this has minor side-effects, like poisoning streams and razing mountains, but those things shouldn't stand in the way of progress, should they?
posted by clevershark at 10:36 AM on May 22, 2005


"GE is trying to make money on making things green or greener--what is your problem with that? This time, high gas prices may be the tipping point for the US really going green. Do you have a problem with that?" ParisParamus

of course they are, that is what corporations do-make $. I am not so niave to think that we don't need energy, and that coal will not continue to provide a percentage of that energy, no matter how destructive it is. I found the concept of the ad appalling--during the early industrial age in the U.S. over 50,000 miners died, and to this day, miners are among the MOST exploited of all peoples, through out the world.
posted by tarantula at 10:46 AM on May 22, 2005


When I first saw this commercial I thought it was something out of Zoolander.
posted by Tenuki at 10:53 AM on May 22, 2005


...harnessing of advertising as an alternative energy source...

Hot air is the lowest form of energy, thermodynamically speaking.
posted by AlexReynolds at 11:04 AM on May 22, 2005


i think maybe one way to conceptualise it is...

ge : green :: ibm : opensource :D

maybe? like remember that ibm linux comercial with that eminem-looking kid?

i dunno!
posted by kliuless at 11:08 AM on May 22, 2005


Clean Coal refers to the way it's burned, not the way it's dug up. Who knows how clean it really is, but it shouldn't be dissmissed out of hand. Clearly, it's possible to burn Gasoline much more cleanly today then in the past, even in a car.

You see, mining today has little to do with the romantic notion of men with lights on their hardhats going down a deep shaft -- that's a very inefficient way to mine for coal.

Really, then how did those Coal miners manage to get trapped a couple of years ago? It was all over the headlines.

---

And yeah, I was kinda shocked when I found out that advertizement was actualy for coal. I figured it was for some kind of perfume or something.

And anyone else notice the song they play in the background is a song about coal miners getting exploited?

("Sold my soul to the company store". Miners often lived in company owned cities where the only stores were company stores, so the miners ended up making no extra money...)

I thought the ad was in bad taste
posted by delmoi at 11:19 AM on May 22, 2005


delmoi writes "Really, then how did those Coal miners manage to get trapped a couple of years ago? It was all over the headlines."

The vast majority of new coal-mining projects are done in strip-mining. Some older shaft mines survive, and some are still in operation, but overall strip mining is where it's at. Some people make furniture by hand, but by and large furniture is machine-made.
posted by clevershark at 11:35 AM on May 22, 2005


The ad may be in bad taste, but the FPP charge is greenwashing. I'm no pal of GE, but anyone have evidence that the claims of their "ecomagination" prgoram are false or misleading?
posted by nanojath at 11:50 AM on May 22, 2005


I think GE is sincere in their embrace of pollution mitigation technologies. It's a profit-driven move, no doubt, but that doesn't necessarily make it a bad thing. I, for one, am glad that there's money to be made in protecting the environment: it means there's a much better chance that the environment will get protected.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:59 AM on May 22, 2005


If I'm reading the last ad correctly, the point is that they want to use a coal gassification plant instead of a traditional coal plant.

Coal gassification is actually a good thing. The short version is that coal is turned into natural gas before being burned, which results in most of the particulate matter and NOx being removed and the exhaust being pure CO2. That pure CO2 can then be sequestered if there's a place to store it -- often in old abandoned oil wells. The last step doesn't usually happen, but it's possible in the future, unlike most coal plants.

It's not perfect, but it's a hell of a lot better than traditional coal plants.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 12:08 PM on May 22, 2005


I don't know - I couldn't get through the sex and the bizarre counterpoint of the song for the ad (the story of a miner lamenting the fact that he's a debt slave to the company) to realize that they could be advertising something interesting.
posted by FormlessOne at 12:13 PM on May 22, 2005


carbon is carbon as far as the atmosphere is concerned. There's cleaner carbon and dirtier carbon, but it still ends up as CO2. Reducing the increase is still an increase.
posted by warbaby at 12:22 PM on May 22, 2005


Natural gas is sometimes used to generate electricity but it's hardly scarce -- in fact it's so abundant in various parts of the world that no one even bothers trying to extract about 95% of it.

This isn't exactly an accurate picture. Natural gas stocks are as depleted as oil; we don't really know how much more Canada and the US has. The main reason for the wellhead waste AFAIK is that l.n.g is a bitch to transport.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:03 PM on May 22, 2005


Heywood Mogroot writes "Natural gas stocks are as depleted as oil; we don't really know how much more Canada and the US has."

That's for North America. The Middle East, and Saudi Arabia in particular, has enormous NG reserves it just sits on. Same for most countries in the Caucasus region.
posted by clevershark at 1:38 PM on May 22, 2005


clever, I see you're right. doe says the persian gulf has 45% of known reserves, and these alone will meet US consumption for the next 100 years ('course, the US isn't going to be consuming 100% of this, but that's prolly enough energy to get us into a different energy source like fusion).
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:56 PM on May 22, 2005


carbon is carbon as far as the atmosphere is concerned. There's cleaner carbon and dirtier carbon, but it still ends up as CO2. Reducing the increase is still an increase.

This is true, but one of the advantages of coal gassification is that the output is near-pure CO2 which has the potential to be sequestered somewhere/somehow. The technology isn't there quite yet, but it's an option that isn't availble with traditional coal plants.

Previously people have pumped CO2 into oil wells in order to push out the last of the remaining oil - it's a neat "put it back where you found it" trick, but it might not be enough. Other ideas include pumping the CO2 deep into the ocean, in old salt mines, etc. Who knows, but it's a way that in 10+ years we might be able to get completly greenhouse-free coal plants.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 2:11 PM on May 22, 2005


"You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store."
Who picked that song for General Electric?
The irony is lost on these people ?
Put some models in coal mines and coal is sexy and cool. Here's the tag line:
Coal, step into the dark.
Coal, the new black. Are they are snorting the stuff?
Pushing coal to a nation in the throes of an edidemic of asthma in it's children?
No matter how blue you color the film, not cool.
"Pure eco-magination" ? How long can we Americans be played for suckers? Don't answer.
We get it. Just buy GE stock.
Feels like a retro 90's music video. Without the guitars. or the drums.
Jeremy spoken. He says:

This ad sucks.

posted by HBXIV at 4:01 PM on May 22, 2005


Some interesting tidbits about the song in question.
posted by svenni at 5:11 PM on May 22, 2005


The funniest part about it is that at first I thought they had stolen the video from the Rammstein video for "Sonne". Of course, with Rammstein, it was a nice perversion of Snow White. Here, it seemed like just a whitewash of GE wonderful, er, I mean utterly horrendous corporate enviormental track record.

Anyone got any links to that listing of all the superfund sites? How many of them are G.E. owned lands?
posted by daq at 9:43 AM on May 23, 2005


Well, advertising glitz aside... it's a sort of unexpected turn of thought for me to realize that hey, it looks like industry will actually start getting "greener" because it will be a lot more profitable in the future to do so.

I know, sort of an economic no-brainer, but it's definitely an intriguing change of mind-track to consider that the big money may actually be in cleaning up the mess - as opposed to dystopian views of just dirtying everything up until all is destroyed.

If money-hungry people can get richer by tidying up than by dirtying, they'll do it. It's all about the money.

As far as the natural gas situation, well yes there's quite a lot of it still over in the Gulf and elsewhere, but the problem is transportation. Gas from Canada and US traveling through land-based pipelines works well, but to get gas from overseas it has to be cooled down to a liquid (using energy to do so, of course) and transported via special tanker ships (scroll down a bit for photo). Sailors have a nickname for these: "floating bombs."

Transport of LNG (liquefied natural gas) over large distances is expensive and fairly dangerous, at the moment. Not saying it's not doable, but the infrastructure of it is substantially more fragile than that of petroleum tanker transport.

In counterpoint, Wired News has an interesting article about wind power potential, with a cool map.
posted by zoogleplex at 1:41 PM on May 23, 2005


Funny. I couldn't believe the commercial when I saw it either, but it was only once, and a few weeks ago, so I hoped it was a dream ...

Something else this reminds me of -- this story in Mother Jones Magazine about a mountain which literally disappeared after being mined for coal.

See also Erik Reece, who had a big article on Appalachian strip mining in the April Harper's. I couldn't find it online yet.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:34 PM on May 23, 2005


More on alternatives to Mountaintop Removal Mining.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:40 PM on May 23, 2005


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