The Kingston Fossil Plant, part of the Tennessee Valley Authority, is proud of its record in reducing certain emissions at this coal fired plant as expressed in their website. Yet, and a big yet, they have not reduced the emissions of CO2, that greenhouse gas that is the main culprit in global warming. Overall, in 2008, the plant produced 9,409,452 pounds of toxics as stated in their “Toxic Release Inventory.” This figure does not include the approximately 22,000,000 pounds of Carbon dioxide released. It also appears that the 20,000 pounds of Nitrogen oxides and 100,000 pounds of Sulfur dioxide are not included in the toxic release inventory.

There is an infrastructure in this country that supports the use of massive amounts of coal as the fuel source for much of our electrical generation. This is not going to change anytime soon. Yet for every bit of coal that is burned, we put toxics and other chemicals into our air, ground, and water. Yes, the coal industry is doing much to mitigate this problem; but the fact remains that these toxics and chemicals, even if properly sequestered, are still admitted into our environment.

The long-term solution is to leave the coal in the ground and find other non-hazardous methods of energy production. Solar and wind are the best long-term solutions we have right now. Nuclear fission is not the long-term solution. However, if nuclear fusion comes into play, it may become a viable option.

Once a solar generating site has been set up, train-loads of coal need not be shipped to it. Here is a link to a Google map image of 2 such locations a few miles east of Barstow, California.

Certainly there are maintenance costs associated with all generating costs; but solar and wind plants emit no toxic chemicals or CO2.

Think “Photovoltaic.” That’s direct conversion of solar energy to electrical energy. Pioneering relativity theorist Albert Einstein won the Nobel Prize in 1921 – but not for his famous theories of relativity and the iconic equation E=mc2. The prize was for his 1905 discovery of exactly how light caused what was then called the photoelectric effect (photovoltaics). This is the wave of the future, and the sooner we jump on that bandwagon, the sooner we get away from relying on coal.

I’m sorry Wyoming, West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and all the other states that dig coal. Start building plants to manufacture solar panels and wind generators. That’s the future.

All the thousands of readers of my blog know that I spent the weekend at the Portland Expo Antique and Collectable show. I went on a buying spree and increased my books by about 2 feet of shelf space. Here is a list of most of what I acquired:

The Foundations of Japan, Notes made during journeys of 6,000 miles in the rural districts as a basis for a sounder knowledge of the Japanese people, by J.W. Robertson Scott, and published by D. Appleton and Company, 1922. This looks like a great narrative that also has lots and lots of photo illustrations, many of which are of the type not found in more popular publications.

Birds of Oregon by Gabrielson and Jewett, published by Oregon State Collete, 1940. It included a foldout map kept in a pocket on the inside back cover. Often these maps are missing in older books. It is interest to note that this book is on-line in its complete form, and is searchable. So why did I purchase it? You can guess.

The Russo-Japanese War [of 1904-1905], A photographic and descriptive review of the great conflict in the Far East, Gathered from the reports, records, cable dispatches, photographs, etc. of Collier’s War Correspondents, and published by P.F. Collier and Son,, MCMV (1905). This is the war in Manchuria and Korea where the Japanese beat the sox off of the Russians.

Birds of Canada by P.A. Taverner and published in the USA by David McKay Company in 1940. The book is loaded with great color illustrations and pen and ink renditions of birds and bird parts.

Alaska Bird Trails, Adventures of an expedition by dog sled to the delta of the Yukon River at Hooper Bay by Herbert Brandt, published by The Bird Research foundation, 1943. The book is loaded with wonderful paintings of birds as well as photo illustrations.

Wild Flowers of the Pacific coast by Haskin and published by Binfords & Mort, Portland, 1967. This is a bread and butter book on the subject with lots of treat black and white photo illustrations.

Manual of the Grasses of the United States, by A.S. Hitchcock and published by the US Government Printing office, 19950 edition. Great line drawings of hundreds of grasses found in the USA. Flora of the Pacific Northwest by Hitchcock & Conquist, published by the University of Washington Press, Seattle, copyright 1973 and this book is the 1987 printing. If it is a plant in the Northwest USA it is described in this book with a short description and extensive taxonomy. It is the Bible of the subject.

I also got 3 volumes, Handbooks, published by three Northwest Agricultural Colleges on the subjects of Weed Control, Insect Control, and Plant Disease Control.

I got some miscellaneous journals such as:

A Chemical Study of the Fumaroles of the Katmai Region (a volcano in Alaska), a national Geographic Society publication, 1923.

An issue of The West Coast from Grafton Publishing, July 1910, with a short article on the Japanese.

A half dozed publications from The American Antiquarian and oriental Journal from the late 1800s.

A Catalog of American Indian Crafts from 1953.

A Decal for my brother that shows a submarine and says U.S. Submarine Veterans, World War II. He was not in WW2 but was in the US Navy for 20 years in the submarine service.

Finally, I got a large photo album of black and white photos from the 1930s. Buildings, people cars, boats, a college graduation, Alaskan totems, etc.

I had a great time which included a dinner with a friend who lives in Alaska. We talked about everything but politics. He is not voting for Mr. Obama (as I am) but I don’t think he is voting for Mr. McCain either.