By Richard Heinberg

"Blackout is a crucial and well timed booklet. within the type of this compact quantity, the best and best top oil authors operating this present day has became his universal scholarhsip, knowledge, wit and writing prowess to a couple of the main ciritical matters now unfolding on our planet. "- Frank Kaminski, power Bulletin

Coal fuels approximately 50% folks electrical energy creation and gives 1 / 4 of the country’s overall strength. China and India’s ferocious financial progress relies on coal-generated electricity.

Coal at the moment appears like an answer to a lot of our fast-growing strength difficulties. even if, whereas coal advocates are urging complete steam forward, expanding reliance at the dirtiest of all fossil fuels has the most important implications for weather technological know-how, strength coverage, the area financial system, and geopolitics.

Drawbacks to a coal-based strength method include:
• Scarcity—new reports turn out that the height of usable coal creation may very well be below 20 years away.
• Cost—the caliber of produced coal is declining, whereas the fee of delivery is emerging, resulting in spiralling bills and capability shortages.
• weather impacts—our skill to house the historical problem of weather switch might hinge on decreasing our coal intake in years yet to come. Blackout is going to the center of the cruel power questions that might dominate each sphere of public coverage through the first half this century, and it's a must-read for planners, educators, and an individual concerned with strength intake, height oil, and weather change.

Richard Heinberg is a journalist, editor, lecturer, and senior fellow of the submit Carbon Institute. he's one of many world’s most appropriate top oil educators and the award-winning writer of 7 prior books, together with top every thing and The Party’s Over.

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Extra info for Blackout: Coal, Climate and the Last Energy Crisis

Example text

It is clearly a mistake to use 34 BLACKOUT the reserves-to-production ratio in forecasting future supplies. Moreover, the reserves figure, “984 billion tonnes,” which sounds solid and authoritative, is in fact arguable. Coal resources certainly exist in great quantities. But resources are of no use if they are inaccessible, are of exceedingly low quality, or are otherwise incapable of meeting the energy needs of modern industrial economies. Therefore we need better answers to the following four questions: • How much of the resource should currently be counted as reserves?

Campbell did hedge his estimate by pointing out that much of this coal was not minable, or was inaccessible for other reasons. ” Still, Campbell’s figure for total reserves was for many years taken at face value. Soon, state surveys began gathering more detailed and accurate information, which resulted in the downgrading of regional reserves. Thus, when the US Coal Commission mounted a new survey in 1923, it reduced all state reserves figures and dropped some states entirely from COAL IN THE UNITED STATES 41 its list of active or likely coal producers.

During this time production costs rose as well, though not at the same pace. The cost of producing coal is related to the price of oil. Consider the case of Massey Energy Company, the nation’s fourth-largest coal company, which annually produces 40 million tons of coal using about 40 million gallons of diesel fuel — about a gallon per ton (the company also uses lubricants, rubber products, and explosives, all made from petroleum or natural gas). If the price of diesel goes up one dollar, this 40 BLACKOUT translates directly to $40 million in increased costs; indirectly related costs also climb.

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