Coal And America - Book Review Of 'Big Coal' By Jeff Goodell

Author Jeff Goodell writes of the price paid for the extraction and burning of coal, from mining accidents and blacklung disease affecting miners, to air pollution downwind of power plants, and finally, the global warming affecting the planet.

"America has enough coal to keep its power plants humming for decades to come. And compared with prospecting for oil, finding the black rock is a snap. In Wyoming's Powder River basin the coal seams run 50 to 100 feet thick and lie so close to the surface they can be scoured in open-pit mines."

"More than 104,000 Americans died digging out coal between 1900 and 2005; twice as many may have died from black lung. The fatality rate in coal mining is almost 60 percent higher than it is in oil and gas extraction."

"Although coal-fired power plants generally keep getting cleaner, they contribute about three-fifths of all sulfur dioxide, one-third of all mercury, and one-fifth of all nitrogen oxide emissions in the United States."

"Goodell's journey inevitably leads to the most dramatic and contentious consequence of coal consumption, global warming. Coal accounts for nearly 40 percent of America's carbon dioxide emissions; it provides more than two-thirds of the energy for China, the world's fastest-opening CO2 spigot."

"So what is to be done?"

Thanks to Mark Boshnack

Full Story: Sunday Book Review: Black Cloud, a review of "Big Coal" by Jeff Goodell

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