Clean Coal?

The GOP landslide in November means, among other things, certain death for the cap-and-trade approach to reducing carbon emissions.

But there is an intriguing debate, even among those who accept the scientific evidence for anthropomorphic climate change, about whether cap-and-trade would be all that effective, given the resistance of emerging economies like China and India to the idea.

And in a recent issue of The Atlantic magazine, James Fallows made a fascinating argument that we need to embrace an idea that seems, at first blush, like a polluters' whitewash: "clean coal."

To environmentalists, “clean coal” is an insulting oxymoron. But for now, the only way to meet the world’s energy needs, and to arrest climate change before it produces irreversible cataclysm, is to use coal—dirty, sooty, toxic coal—in more-sustainable ways. The good news is that new technologies are making this possible. China is now the leader in this area, the Google and Intel of the energy world. If we are serious about global warming, America needs to work with China to build a greener future on a foundation of coal. Otherwise, the clean-energy revolution will leave us behind, with grave costs for the world’s climate and our economy.

But the idea still faces strong criticism. Below, a trailer for "Dirty Business: 'Clean Coal' and the Battle for Our Energy Future," a new film produced by the California-based Center for Investigative Reporting:

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