The Dirty Secret of Declining Global Coal Supplies

by: Heather on 11/30/2010
Posted in: Peak Oil

The most recent edition of the respected science journal Nature contemplates the end of cheap coal with an analysis of the decline of global coal supplies by Post Carbon Institute Fellows David Fridley and Richard Heinberg. Heinberg is widely regarded as one of the world's leading peak oil educators and an effective communicator of the urgent need to transition away from fossil fuels. He is the author of Blackout: Coal, Climate and the Last Energy Crisis - a book that was distinctly ahead of its time when it was released in early 2009. From the introduction to Blackout:

In short: two of the defining trends of the emerging century — the development of the Asian economies and climate change — both center on coal. But coal is a finite, non-renewable resource. Thus, a discussion of the future of coal must also intersect with a third great trend of the new century: resource depletion.

These three great trends must inevitably interact and coalesce. How will this occur? Can current trends in coal consumption be sustained? If not, what does this mean for the global economy and for the environment? If such trends cannot be sustained, how will our energy future unfold?

Nature is far from alone in sounding the alarm on the potential impact of the coal crisis. The Wall Street Journal also reports that "Beijing is considering capping domestic coal output in the 2011-2015 period, partly because officials worry miners are running down reserves too quickly to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding economy." And National Geographic has suggested that the world could face "peak coal" as soon as 2011.

Check out Blackout to learn more about the crucial implications of our reliance on coal for the global climate, energy policy, the world economy, and geopolitics.

Blackout: Coal Climate and the Last Energy Crisis

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