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Blackout: Heinberg on dwindling coal reserves and the siren song of “clean coal”
There isn’t nearly as much coal left as most people think. “Clean coal” will run down limited reserves even faster. If humanity doesn’t begin massive, sustained investment in renewable power sources immediately, civilization could be at risk before the end of the century. And that’s without considering the impacts of climate change.
Such is the stark conclusion of Richard Heinberg’s Blackout: Coal, Climate and the Last Energy Crisis, which despite its dry tone and technical complexity is one of the scariest Expletive deleted. books I’ve ever read.
Right now the U.S. is on the verge of a momentous gamble, as reflected in the ACES bill: betting that long-term emission reductions can be achieved via carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). ACES postpones serious domestic reductions for over a decade on the assumption (hope?) that CCS technology will mature and drop in price enough to enable the indefinite use of coal.
Similarly, at U.N. talks it is fervently hoped that CCS will enable coal to continue driving developing-world economic expansion (as oil declines, coal use has risen). Nothing approaching WWII-scale investment in renewables and efficiency is on the table.
Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe. H. G. Wells.
Fatih Birol's motto: leave oil before it leaves us.
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