A current article appearing on a blog sponsored by the University of Texas at Austin sets forth a date of 2011 for the "peaking" of coal production. The article is located here: http://www.utexas.edu/news/2010/07/26/engineering_patzek_coal/comment-page-1/#comment-3513
While the main thrust of the article argues for tweaking climate modeling computers, the reason the climate modeling computers should be tweaked is that coal production will "peak" in 2011, according to research published by Professor Tad Patzek, Chair of the Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering Department at UT at Austin:
Based on widely accepted studies predicting coal production will peak and decline after 2011, Patzek warns climate change predictions should be revised to account for this inevitable peak and decline. His research appears in the internationally peer-reviewed journal, Energy, The International Journal.
Credible forecasts of coal production, by contrast, predict a 50 percent reduction over the next 50 years.
Professor Patzek will never be accused of being a champion of current IPCC climate models, claiming they are based on "the common myth of 200-400 years of coal supply." The Professor and his associate go on to say that IPCC "policy considerations . . . appear to be unconstrained by geophysics."
What these Professors seem to fail to grasp is the magnitude of coal peaking in 2011 viz-a-viz
the energy needs of an exponentially growing worldwide population, and the energy growth required to fuel market capitalism. Insufficient energy inputs into the economy mean inevitable economic decline, perhaps collapse, and the world's population will necessarily suffer painful dislocations.
Intending the following comments toward climate modelers, I ask the reader, instead, to consider the ramifications of the comments with respect to future energy production models:
"Governments worldwide are basing their policy decisions on the uninterrupted increase of coal and oil production worldwide," says Patzek. "These policy decisions will be inherently in error, and will lead to expensive and false technological solutions."
The problem with "peak oil" is exactly the problem with "peak coal" -- The "easy" coal is gone:
The paper provides a physical model of historical and future production of coal worldwide. The model demonstrates that despite enormous coal deposits globally, coal production rates will decline because the deposits show increasing inaccessibility and decreasing coal seam thickness, according to the research.
For me at least, the idea of coal "peaking" in 2011 is quite startling. I don't think I've ever seen a date so close for coal. I've always thought coal would peak sometime between 2035-2050.
If Professor Patzek is correct about "peak coal," then if humans are going to invent a way out of the oncoming energy crisis, I'm thinking we better get started pretty doggone soon now.
But like climate deniers, energy deniers will block intensive efforts to develop alternative energy sources into the foreseeable future. On this, I hope I am incorrect.