250 Years of Coal? Richard Heinberg Says Peak Coal in 20 Years

by: EJ on 08/27/2009
Posted in: New Books

Richard Heinberg, Senior Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute, and author of Blackout: Coal, Climate and the Last Energy Crisis speaks on the coming of peak coal. Several studies in the last three years suggest that coal supplies both globally and within the United States are much smaller than previously predicted. In addition, he suggests that the clean coal option is based upon the assumption of a cheap source of coal that will be available for many decades. Given that it will take at least a couple of decades to develop clean coal technology and including the cost of carbon sequestration, the path to clean coal begins to seem much less viable.

David Roberts, Grist magazine staff writer, sums up Heinberg's message very bluntly.

If humanity doesn't begin massive, sustained investment in renewable power sources immediately, civilization could be at risk before the end of the century. And that's without considering the impacts of climate change.

Featured on Huffingtonpost.com, Roberts calls Blackout, "one of the scariest f*cking books I've ever read." He compares our remaining fossil fuels to a bank account.

Pretty soon our income is going to decline and savings are going to get drawn down. The question before us is: how fast should we draw down our fossil savings, and what should we spend them on?

If clean coal is a "phantom", as Roberts says, should we be spending our precious remaining fossil fuels developing the technology and extracting the last of our finite fossil fuels? Heinberg doesn't think so. He advocates a reduction of world population and a drastically simplified, low energy, localized culture. Read more here.

Blackout: Coal Climate and the Last Energy Crisis


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