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Coal, Climate and the Last Energy Crisis
Coal fuels about 50 percent of US electricity production and provides a quarter of the country's total energy. China and India's ferocious economic growth is based almost entirely on coal-generated electricity.
Coal currently looks like a solution to many of our fast-growing energy problems. However, while coal advocates are urging full steam ahead, increasing reliance on the dirtiest of all fossil fuels has crucial implications for the global climate, energy policy, the world economy, and geopolitics.
Drawbacks to a coal-based energy strategy include:
- Scarcity – new studies suggest that the peak of world coal production may actually be less than two decades away.
- Cost – the quality of produced coal is declining, while the expense of transport is rising, leading to spiraling costs and increasing shortages.
- Climate impacts-our ability to deal with the historic challenge of climate change will hinge on reducing our coal consumption in future years.
Blackout goes to the heart of the tough energy questions that will dominate every sphere of public policy throughout the first half of this century, and is a must-read for planners, educators, and anyone concerned about energy consumption, peak oil and climate change.
Richard Heinberg is the author of eleven previous books including The Party's Over, Powerdown, Peak Everything, and The End of Growth. He is a Senior Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute and is widely regarded as one of the world's most effective communicators of the urgent need to transition away from fossil fuels. Heinberg has given hundreds of lectures on our energy future to audiences around the world. He has been published in Nature and other journals, and has been featured in many television and theatrical documentaries.
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