Here’s a snippet from a New York Times article with the reassuring title: “With China and India Ravenous for Energy, Coal’s Future Seems Assured“:
Coal remains a critical component of the world’s energy supply despite its bad image. In China, demand for coal in 2010 resulted in a traffic jam 75 miles long caused by more than 10,000 trucks carrying supplies from Inner Mongolia. India is increasing coal imports.
So is Europe, as it takes advantage of lower coal prices in the United States. …
Global demand for coal is expected to grow to 8.9 billion tons by 2016 from 7.9 billion tons this year, with the bulk of new demand — about 700 million tons — coming from China, according to a Peabody Energy study. China is expected to add 240 gigawatts, the equivalent of adding about 160 new coal-fired plants to the 620 operating now, within four years. During that period, India will add an additional 70 gigawatts through more than 46 plants.
Coal’s future seems assured! Like the obnoxious football star that you’ll hoping will at least lose the race for homecoming king and ideally would be severely injured during a game and have to be homeschooled until graduation, coal keeps coming out on top. And, like that football player, coal is going to live a much better life than it deserves to.
Why? Because life isn’t fair. Also, because it’s easier to ignore the long-term effects of coal-produced energy in order to keep coal cheap than it is to actually build an international energy-production infrastructure that obviates its use. Just as it’s easier to predict that the football player will act like an asshole than it is to become good at football and injure him yourself.