A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Full Steam Ahead.....

Now, you won't read this very often on this Weblog, but what a splendid story in today's The Guardian - 'Steam power on track for great renaissance'. To a Northern lad of my generation, this can only be clickety-clack music to the ears. Even today, if I ever visit York station, I can still see the majestic A4, 60019 Bittern, out of Gateshead Shed (52A), gliding round the most elegant of platform curves, surely one of the most beautiful sights to have ever graced the world - especially when you are a 11-year old 'ferroequinologist', with spectacles, a grime-covered face, and notebook and chewed pencil in hand. A Brief Encounter of the most memorable kind! (My wife grimaces!).

And now it looks like we may have a brand new, futuristic, 4-6-0 steam train, neither smokey nor grimey, but still with white plumes of steam and piston rods racing out of real cylinders. Reciprocating motion in action. I do hope so.

But more seriously, I would like to make a prediction. There is increasing evidence that our energy future will involve Old King Coal once again. Even on a conservative estimate, there are over 350 years worth of coal reserves in the world. And this coal will be clean, as we move from advanced fluidised bed technologies to gasification. The Canadian Clean Power Coalition ( CCPC), for example, aims to demonstrate carbon dioxide removal from an existing coal-fired power plant by 2007, and then from a totally new power plant by 2010. Moreover, if you want to develop a hydrogen economy, coal will be the perfect way of extracting the hydrogen carrier. Coal has been on the 'seamy' side for too long. It is time for King Coal to retake the Energy Throne. And, unlike the utopia of a 'renewables' heaven, we know coal works. Time to visit the World Coal Institute - and then, "Poop, Poop! Ch....Ch... Ch..(Ch.ch.ch.ch.ch...) Ch..Ch.(accelerando)Ch.Ch.Ch----------------- and away! Poop! Poop!" Philip - a small boy once again, as 60022 Mallard (Top Shed - Kings Cross [34A]) pulls out, like a Great Fiery Monster, from Grantham Station with the down 'Flying Scotsman'. Poetry in motion. And a proud boast - I saw all the A4s from 60001 Sir Ronald Matthews to 60034 Lord Faringdon. Golden, innocent days.

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

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