Why is it so hard to quit coal

Coal is used extensively for electric generation all over the world.  And electricity is one of the main reasons that people’s lives are getting better and better all over the developing world, particularly in Asia.  Electricity makes people’s lives not just a little better, but much, much better.  And obviously, and for the best of reasons, people all over the world desperately want electricity.  And most of that electricity is now being generated by burning coal.  But unfortunately, all that coal is heating up our atmosphere at a rate not seen for hundreds of thousands of years.

And then there is the fact that big finance all over the world  makes lots of money providing this coal generated electricity.

“Coal, the fuel that powered the industrial age, has led the planet to the brink of catastrophic climate change.”

Even though electrical generation in coal fired plants in the US and even in China is dropping, it is not dropping fast enough to save us from many of the ravages of global warming.   I’m afraid that we are in for a very tough time during the later part of this century.

I hate to say it, but in my worst moments I even fear that we may be doomed.


More from the November 24th edition of the New York times

“Coal, the fuel that powered the industrial age, has led the planet to the brink of catastrophic climate change.”

“While coal use looks certain to eventually wane worldwide, according to the latest assessment by the International Energy Agency, it is not on track to happen anywhere fast enough to avert the worst effects of climate change. Last year, in fact, global production and consumption increased after two years of decline.”

“Cheap, plentiful and the most polluting of fossil fuels, coal remains the single largest source of energy to generate electricity worldwide. This, even as renewables like solar and wind power are rapidly becoming more affordable. Soon, coal could make no financial sense for its backers.”

“Home to half the world’s population, Asia accounts for three-fourths of global coal consumption today. More important, it accounts for more than three-fourths of coal plants that are either under construction or in the planning stages — a whopping 1,200 of them.”

“The world’s juggernaut, though, is China. The country consumes half the world’s coal.”

“Spurred by public outcry over air pollution, China is now also the world leader in solar and wind power installation, and its central government has tried to slow down coal plant construction. But an analysis by Coal Swarm, a U.S.-based team of researchers that advocates for coal alternatives, concluded that new plants continue to be built, and other proposed projects have simply been delayed rather than stopped.”

“Its regional rival, Japan, is in the game too: nearly 60 percent of planned coal projects developed by Japanese companies are outside the country, mostly financed by Japanese banks.

That contest is particularly stark in Southeast Asia, one of the world’s last frontiers of coal expansion.”

“Coal accounts for 36 percent of the country’s power generation capacity now; it is projected to grow to 42 percent by 2030, according to the government. To feed those plants, Vietnam will need to import 90 million tons of coal by 2030.”

“Vietnam says it is on track to meet its emissions reductions targets under the Paris accord. So, too, China and India, with far bigger carbon footprints. But those targets were set by the countries themselves, and they will not be enough to keep global temperatures from rising to calamitous levels. The United States has said it will exit the Paris climate pact.”

“Those sobering facts loom over the next round of international climate negotiations, starting Dec. 3 in the heart of Poland’s coal country. The American delegation plans to promote coal at the event, just as it did at last year’s talks in Bonn, Germany.”

“There are cheaper fuels, including natural gas; gas now accounts for around 31 percent of total power generation in the United States, the same share as coal. China has imposed tariffs on coal imports from the United States, in the tit-for-tat trade dispute. More than 200 coal plants have closed since 2010, and coal consumption has continued to decline, contrary to Mr. Trump’s false claims. Coal mining jobs have plummeted over the last decade, despite a modest increase of about 4 percent in the first 18 months of the Trump presidency.”


The image at the top of this page was taken on Dallas Divide near Tellluride, CO.  This is one of the most famous pictures of Colorado ever taken.  Probably three
million people
 plus me have taken this picture.  I suppose
this is because in
 many ways this scene catches
the essence
of  the Colorado Rockies.





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