Since the late 18th century, when it emerged as a source of heating and, later, steam power, coal has brought untold benefits to mankind. Even today, coal generates almost 45 percent of the world's power. Our modern technological society would be inconceivable without coal and the energy it provides.Read more...
Since the late 18th century, when it emerged as a source of heating and, later, steam power, coal has brought untold benefits to mankind. Even today, coal generates almost 45 percent of the world's power. Our modern technological society would be inconceivable without coal and the energy it provides. Unfortunately, that society will not survive unless we wean ourselves off coal. The largest single source of greenhouse gases, coal is responsible for 43 percent of the world's carbon emissions. Richard Martin, author of "SuperFuel," argues that to limit catastrophic climate change, we must find a way to power our world with less polluting energy sources, and we must do it in the next couple of decades or else it is "game over." It won't be easy: as coal plants shut down across the United States, and much of Europe turns to natural gas, coal use is growing in the booming economies of Asia particularly China and India. Even in Germany, where nuclear power stations are being phased out in the wake of the Fukushima accident, coal use is growing. Led by the Sierra Club and its ambitious "Beyond Coal" campaign, environmentalists hope to drastically reduce our dependence on coal in the next decade. But doing so will require an unprecedented contraction of an established, lucrative, and politically influential worldwide industry. Big Coal will not go gently. And its decline will dramatically change lives everywhere from Appalachian coal miners and coal company executives to activists in China's nascent environmental movement.
Based on a series of journeys into the heart of coal land, from Wyoming to West Virginia to China's remote Shanxi Province, hundreds of interviews with people involved in, or affected by, the effort to shrink the industry, and deep research into the science, technology, and economics of the coal industry, "Coal Wars" chronicles the dramatic stories behind coal's big shutdown and the industry's desperate attempts to remain a global behemoth. A tour de force of literary journalism, "Coal Wars" will be a milestone in the climate change battle."
- ISBN-13: 9781137279347
- ISBN-10: 1137279346
- Publisher: St. Martin's Press
- Publish Date: April 2015
- Page Count: 288
- Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.88 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-05-18
- Reviewer: Staff
In this engaging work of environmental reportage, Martin (Superfuel) goes on the road to encounter firsthand the battles raging in the war on coal. Those battles are now mostly waged on social, political, and economic fields, unlike the bloody conflicts of the past. Mine accidents do continue to kill workers, however, and coal power generation continues to cause health problems as well as contributing "over 44% of global carbon dioxide emissions." Coal isn't going down without a fight, as Martin clearly demonstrates in his travels around coal-producing states and nations, but the writing may be on the wall. As much as one fifth of the coal-burning capacity of the U.S. could be shut down in the next few years, he writes, with investor flight behind the slowdown: "Follow the money, and the path suggests that coal is losing the battle for the future." The case isn't as clear in China, where a nascent environmental movement and the government itself confront a voracious need for power. But Martin notes that "Unless China weans itself from coal in the next two decades, there is no chance of limiting global climate change." Despite this gloomy prospect and a recent upswing in coal use in Europe, Martin optimistically remarks that coal is ultimately "replaceable." (Apr.)