Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

October 2018

Like most of you, I know little or nothing about the science of climate change. The effect of carbon emitted into the atmosphere seems reasonable, to me, to assume is not really good.
When I moved to Vermont in 1971, there was a lot of concern about acid rain, and I remember it wasn’t our fault. It was stinky, smoky emissions from middle American manufacturers’ chimneys that were the cause of wilting moss on the Long Trail and Camel’s Hump.

I know something about mid-American manufacturing chimneys. I worked for a company that had plants all over the country. I remember that the Chicago plant had been whacked about because their smoke was quite visible to folks flying into O’Hare and travelers on the Dan Ryan Expressway. Not sure how this was accomplished, but the thick white smoke was somehow diverted from straight up to straight down, and most of the neighborhood around the plant looked freshly whitewashed.

I know about clean coal as well. My Aunt Miriam burned channel (sometimes called cannel or candle) coal in her Ben Franklin stove. This was in South Harpswell, Maine, in 1961. The reason I am so sure of the date is that Aunt Miriam was quick to dote on me, her youngest nephew. However, she did forget my 21st birthday, which I never mentioned because I thought she was probably going to spring a surprise cake on me after dinner. It was September and the weather was cooling (hey, not like now, it was 57 years ago!) so I fired up Ben.

Lighting channel coal is a snap: a couple of pages from the old Sears catalog and a match brought a nice yellow and red flame. It wasn’t real hot but it left no ash and took the chill off that end of the cabin.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the flame from channel coal was like the flame from the old pots used around construction sites in the days before electric flashers or reflectors. It was great fun, as a barely teen on the prowl, to stop and see how long you could hold your hand in the flickering flame.

Now that was clean coal!