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The World Falls Back In Love With Coal

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the midsummer-2045 dept.

Earth 341

Hugh Pickens writes "Richard Anderson reports on BBC that despite stringent carbon emissions targets in Europe designed to slow global warming and massive investment in renewable energy in China, coal, the dirtiest and most polluting of all the major fossil fuels, is making a comeback with production up 6% over 2010, twice the rate of increase of gas and more than four times that of oil. 'What is going on is a shift from nuclear power to coal and from gas to coal; this is the worst thing you could do, from a climate change perspective,' says Dieter Helm. Why the shift back to coal? Because coal is cheap, and getting cheaper all the time. Due to the economic downturn, there has been a 'collapse in industrial demand for energy,' leading to an oversupply of coal, pushing the price down. Meanwhile China leads the world in coal production and consumption. It mines over 3 billion tons of coal a year, three times more than the next-biggest producer (America), and last year overtook Japan to become the world's biggest coal importer. Although China is spending massive amounts of money on a renewable energy but even this will not be able to keep up with demand, meaning fossil fuels will continue to make up the majority of the overall energy mix for the foreseeable future and when it comes to fossil fuels, coal is the easy winner — it is generally easier and cheaper to mine, and easier to transport using existing infrastructure such as roads and rail, than oil or gas. While China is currently running half a dozen carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects — which aim to capture CO2 emissions from coal plants and bury it underground — the technology is nowhere near commercial viability. 'Renewed urgency in developing CCS globally, alongside greater strides in increasing renewable energy capacity, is desperately needed,' writes Anderson, 'but Europe's increasing reliance on coal without capturing emissions is undermining its status as a leader in clean energy, and therefore global efforts to reduce CO2 emissions.'"

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Huh? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42074593)

Due to the economic downturn, there has been a 'collapse in industrial demand for energy,' leading to an oversupply of coal, pushing the price down.

This does not make sense. A collapse in demand leading to an oversupply can plausibly cause other people, i.e. non industrial customers, to pick up the excess but that does doesn't result in more people using it than before, just different people.

Hey Slashdot Editor! (0)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 2 years ago | (#42074711)

Thanks for joining in the HUGE PR EFFORT of the major energy corporations... FOR FREE!

My dear god. Could it hurt you, not to include loaded, "spin words" in the story title?

Re:Hey Slashdot Editor! (5, Interesting)

Tx (96709) | about 2 years ago | (#42075077)

It's not so much PR as reality. Germany is one of the greenest countries in Europe, yet they're building new coal plants. Why? Because they're decommissioning old nuclear plants, and they have to replace them with some suitable base-load source. Since Fukushima, new nuclear plants are practically off the cards, so coal is about it. It's cheap, it's not nuclear, and we don't have to buy it from the Arabs; what's not to love?

Re:Hey Slashdot Editor! (4, Informative)

xtal (49134) | about 2 years ago | (#42075355)

Coal spews more radiation than a nuclear meltdown, and kills many more people in it's extraction and mining. How's that for some things not to love?

Re:Hey Slashdot Editor! (4, Insightful)

paiute (550198) | about 2 years ago | (#42075415)

Coal spews more radiation than a nuclear meltdown, and kills many more people in it's extraction and mining. How's that for some things not to love?

Well, I don't love it, and you don't love it, but the people with the money who are making the decisions love it.

Re:Hey Slashdot Editor! (4, Insightful)

hankwang (413283) | about 2 years ago | (#42075505)

"Coal spews more radiation than a nuclear meltdown"

I'd like to see a source for that. More radiation than a properly functioning nuclear plant, maybe. But accidents like Chernobyl or Fukushima: no way!

Plus: the radioactivity released by coal plants is mostly in the fly ash, which is filtered out in modern plants. So it's essentially comparing near zero amounts of radioactivity.

Re:Hey Slashdot Editor! (0, Troll)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 2 years ago | (#42075529)

/sarcasm Yeah, that radiation. The coal plants around Pittsburgh's 3-Rivers have left a nuclear wasteland stretching to long Island.

We all hate moronic talking points - how about we agree to drop them? Chernobyl is an example of radiation problems. 3 Mile Island was a tamer example. And, now, Fukushima. The Greenies talk about all that radiation from coal, but they can't point to one example of a population center depopulated due to radiation from coal.

Try sticking to the REAL drawbacks of using coal.

Re:Huh? (2)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#42075175)

It pushes the price down to the point of being affordable to those who couldn't afford it before.

It means more people using it because they are, individually, using less of it, but there are more of them. A lot more. China and india sort of thing.

No, it has nothing to do with fuel (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42074599)

The fact is that today's children are terrible. The increase in coal production is purely for Santa to leave lumps of it in stockings for these children.

Re:No, it has nothing to do with fuel (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 2 years ago | (#42074607)

This might be my favorite AC post. Ever.

Re:No, it has nothing to do with fuel (1)

AZURERAZOR (472031) | about 2 years ago | (#42074991)

Ditto... Well played Anonymous Coward

Re:No, it has nothing to do with fuel (4, Funny)

Belial6 (794905) | about 2 years ago | (#42075361)

Santa doesn't deliver coal anymore. He did that back in the day when coal was useful in the home. The good children got toys. The bad children got something useful. Today he delivers socks.

If it's too cheap to ignore then make it clean! (2)

denis-The-menace (471988) | about 2 years ago | (#42074617)

Granted the CO2 is not good if we want the climate to stay as is but if coal is too cheap then we MUST figure a way to use it without the drawbacks.

There has been talk about talking CO2 from the air and making diesel out of it. Why not get straight from a coal burning plant? (BTW: sequestration of CO2 in the ground was proven to cause Earth quakes.)

Re:If it's too cheap to ignore then make it clean! (4, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#42074701)

Because right now, it's cheaper to pull oil out the ground and refine it into diesel.

Re:If it's too cheap to ignore then make it clean! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42075389)

The technology already exists. Google 'Clean Coal'. The thing is, clean coal plants are not that cheap to build, so there is an upfront cost that must be assumed.

But yes, now that new nuclear plants are out of the question (for now), coal is the next best thing. Unless you want to give up your gadgets, that is.

was it ever not in love with coal? (4, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#42074623)

Sources suggest [indexmundi.com] that apart from a brief blip during the economic downturn in 2009, worldwide coal consumption has been steadily increasing for the past 10 years or so, after plateauing in 1988-2000.

Re:was it ever not in love with coal? (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#42075207)

Right, but the rich countries (that pay the most) were reducing consumption in the 1988-2000 range, maybe a bit later than that even, while the poor countries were picking up consumption.

And then they started to take off like a rocket.

Coal had fallen out of favour as one of those 'we're not going to eliminate it over night' kind of things. And then china decided it liked being able to power factories and TVs.

Re:was it ever not in love with coal? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42075313)

Listen to an economist on how the price of energy relates to the economics of society, including emissions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39w1ecVcPR0&t=6m58s [youtube.com]

Well worth the time. The presentation is shock full of actual data and statistics.

Predictable (5, Insightful)

Nemyst (1383049) | about 2 years ago | (#42074665)

That's what you get for knee-jerking and planning to shut down all of your nuclear reactors. The promise of replacing that power with clean renewable energy is proving a tad hard to follow up, right? I'm not exactly surprised.

I expect Europe will eventually start driving coal down once more, but it'll take a while to do such a shift, during which time coal will be the stopgap measure. That, or they finally wake up and do nuclear right instead of writing it off entirely.

Re:Predictable (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42074833)

Global coal production has been increasing steadily since 2000, in 2004 global coal production increased by 9%, a 6% increase in 2010 over 2009 is pretty ordinary. See the chart below.

http://www.indexmundi.com/energy.aspx?product=coal&graph=production

Re:Predictable (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42074857)

Europe doesn't have much good coal left. After centuries of mining, only crappy coal is left behind. Germany, the world leader in brown coal (the worse of the worse) production and consumption..

http://www.worldcoal.org/resources/coal-statistics/ [worldcoal.org]

44% of Germany's power production is still coal. But environmentalists say that nuclear is the problem and shut it down. Because we all know that nuclear power causes global warming, destroyed the ozone layer and killed millions in Chernobyl and destroyed the environment there. :S Right??

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/04/0426_060426_chernobyl.html [nationalgeographic.com]

In reality, radiation "disaster areas" are off limits for humans only. And where there are no people, the wildlife seems to be doing quite well. As it was said before by people much smarter than myself - maybe the only way to save the amazon rainforest is to spread nuclear waste all over it.

The bottom line is nuclear disaster are short term problem for the generation(s) responsible for cutting corners and polluting the area. Overtime, the said pollution disappears (half-life mostly) and future generations don't pay the piper. They get renewed, pristine land instead. Unlike Global Warming, the highest danger is immediate not 400 years from now.

So I must say the anti-nuclear power environmentalists are complete whackos. Somewhere along the line they completely lost their rationality and their actions will fuck over all of us.

Re:Predictable (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42075059)

Can we switch to burning Activists for fuel?

Re:Predictable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42075271)

They're no whackos, they are hypocrites that have economic interests in "photovoltaic energy", which is just as much contaminant as the others, but it must be eco-friendly because it comes from "the Sun", like the energy the plants use. Because all other forms of energy production are much better than their trash, they oppose: wind, nuclear, coal, water, and bioenergy. Hey! That's pretty much everything except what they offer. Because they cannot compete in a fair market, they seek government involvement to choose the worst option, justifying it on "felt good/ideology" basis, because there are no objective reason to build solar plants except in space stations (and not even then, usually nuclear is a better option in those cases). That's also why environmentalism is a branch of communism/socialism, socialism is the only form of government that punishes the best and favours the worst, they couldn't survive outside of it.

Re:Predictable (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42075341)

Nuclear power and vaccines, can't have those. Too efficient. Sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.

Re:Predictable (1, Insightful)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 2 years ago | (#42075349)

I'm very much pro nuclear, and against smelly hippie activists, but I wouldn't go so far as to call them complete whackos. They have a point: the old nuke plants were pretty bad and so were the old ideas around waste disposal. But that's improving; newer plants are far safer than the old crapholes at Fukushima and Chernobyl. Newer designs (thorium plants) can be made far safer still, and also bring the amount of time we need to store waste down to manageable levels (think a few decades). But I agree: we got these improvements not because of the activists, but despite them. And their "no nukes ever" stance has now been picked up by most of Europe in the wake of Fukushima, slowing development even further, to the point where we may end up buying our thorium plants from the Chinese or the Indians a few decades down the line.

Re:Predictable (2)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 2 years ago | (#42074877)

No kidding. You just have to look at Japan which is switching from nuclear to coal generation or Germany which is switching from nuclear to lignite coal to figure this out. In Germany it will certainly be interesting to see what will happen to their energy prices once they shut down their nuclear generators and they lose all that money they are charging nuclear producers of electricity in order to fund wind power generation.

Re:Predictable (3, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 years ago | (#42074887)

It has nothing to do with nuclear. Keep in mind fukushima happened last year and there is no way new coal plants could have been built as a reaction by now.

The growth has been coming for years due to rising costs in other areas and the falling cost of coal. Carbon capture has also made it more attractive.

I'm sure nuclear will eventually make a difference, but not yet.

Re:Predictable (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | about 2 years ago | (#42075281)

There are two ways I can think of this being a direct reaction within the timescale-- existing idled coal-fired plants / multi-source plants switching to coal, or the addition of coal fired boilers at existing plants.

I have done work in CO2 distillation plant that took feed from a nearby refinery; it is pretty hard for me to imagine carbon sequestration ever being a commercially viable means to keep coal attractive. I would have thought that in-situ gasification would have happened by now.

Re:Predictable (1, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#42074975)

The collective has decided that it does not want nuclear.

Greens decided that they are against nuclear [ontheissues.org] .

It's not carbon and not nuclear. It needs to be clean. A lot of it has to do with redirecting our economy to less carbon intensive, relocalized versions of the economy.

(never mind the other [youtube.com] obvious problems [youtube.com] with the 'greens' being that they are in fact socialists, collectivists, central planners pushing for price controls, exchange controls, wage controls, draft, marshal law, nationalisation, all the worst parts of authoritarian, dictatorial, tyrannical, anti-individual, anti-human, anti-free market, anti-capitalist ideology)

So the collective decided that it does not want nuclear, just like the collective decided that it does not want free market competitive capitalism, but instead wants collectivism. It's all complete nonsense and it is destroying the economy as well as the environment.

Re:Predictable (2, Interesting)

xtal (49134) | about 2 years ago | (#42075245)

Nobody complains about all the nuclear reactors mounted on thousands of kilograms of rocket fuel, pointed directly at the world's major population centers, locked and loaded, a few electrical impulses from going off.

People are stupid, and the anti-nuke people are even stupider. We'll burn every last drop of commercially extractable energy profitable hydrocarbon before we look at nuclear. My only ray of light is nuclear is so clean, and there is so much of it, that it may be able to power a next generation of carbon sequestration technologies.

I have become more vocal about pointing out the stupidity, and encourage others to do so. No renewables on earth can, or ever will, compare with the energy density and baseload capacity of a modern nuclear plant.

Not having fusion reactors should be a national shame. The only ones we have are on top of those rockets.

Dumb Europeans disowned Nuclear (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42074675)

That's what you get with the dumb euroweenies disowning nuclear power because of what happened to some antiquated plants in Japan.

Re:Dumb Europeans disowned Nuclear (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 2 years ago | (#42074897)

Don't put France in the same bag as the Germans. The situation is totally different.

America leader on clean energy, not Europe (3, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#42074699)

America is the only country it would seem, still building clean nuclear plants (much less shutting them down as Germany has done!). We are also the only country going full speed ahead on fracking, giving us lots of natural gas to use which burns without emitting CO2. Also where are realistic electric cars like the Telsa being designed? America.

Frankly I did not ever see Europe being a leader in CO2 reduction, they were all talk. It's one thing to sign a paper or give statements of support, it's quite another to carry through with real actions that will actually cause the reduction you seek. If Europe had been at all serious about CO2 reduction they would have leaned on Germany not to close down nuclear plants.

Re:America leader on clean energy, not Europe (0)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#42074715)

Fracked or not, that natural gas turns into the same amount of carbon when you burn it.

Re:America leader on clean energy, not Europe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42075025)

not exactly, coal produces more CO2 per watt then natural gas. So Coal is worse than Gas but that's not saying much.

Re:America leader on clean energy, not Europe (5, Informative)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 2 years ago | (#42074731)

We are also the only country going full speed ahead on fracking, giving us lots of natural gas to use which burns without emitting CO2.

Um, no. Burning natual gas emits lots of CO2. Less than coal or oil, because so much more of it is hydrogen, but there's still a good amount of carbon there and it emits CO2 when burned.

Yes, but still less... (5, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#42074783)

I misspoke in saying it burnt without emitting CO2, but as you say it burns cleaner than coal which is what as the article says, they are turning to in Europe.

So switching to a much heavier use of natural gas can significantly reduce CO2 emissions.

Re:America leader on clean energy, not Europe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42074743)

giving us lots of natural gas to use which burns without emitting CO2.

So, what is oxidised in the place of the carbon (along with hydrogen) when natural gas burns?

Re:America leader on clean energy, not Europe (2)

rtaylor (70602) | about 2 years ago | (#42074751)

America is the only country it would seem, still building clean nuclear plants

Canada (specifically Ontario) is too. Several reactors have recently been refurbished and more are underway. A tender to build 4 additional reactors is being prepared.

Canada has very high energy usage on a per-capita basis but a fairly small population.

Re:America leader on clean energy, not Europe (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 2 years ago | (#42074927)

Canada has very high energy usage on a per-capita basis but a fairly small population.

No kidding. Given the Canadian climate it's probably either that or a lot of people freezing to death.

Re:America leader on clean energy, not Europe (1)

c_sd_m (995261) | about 2 years ago | (#42075093)

Few Canadians heat their homes with electricity since there are much cheaper options available. It may contribute to the use of energy sources (oil and natural gas, mostly) but it does not significantly contribute to the use of electrical energy. So the nuclear plants aren't directly keeping Canadians thawed out.

Re:America leader on clean energy, not Europe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42075435)

Maybe in your part of Canada, but here in Quebec (~1/4 the population of Canada?) electricity is very cheap (while oil is not!) and is used for heating everywhere...

Re:America leader on clean energy, not Europe (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42074759)

Actually, it was the windmill crowd that they were so hyped about in europe, but because of how inconsistent it is and them totally abandoning Nuclear, they are still looking for that miracle energy that is not nuclear. America is still building Nuclear plants and frakking for gas, but not the West Coast or New York. Most of the Nuke plants are going up in Georgia and the rest of the Southeast.

Re:America leader on clean energy, not Europe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42074763)

Burning natural gas emits co2. It's just about half of coal. But it doesn't release all the particles that coal does.

Re:America leader on clean energy, not Europe (-1, Flamebait)

captaindomon (870655) | about 2 years ago | (#42074795)

America, or the United States of America? "America" is two continents...

Re:America leader on clean energy, not Europe (4, Informative)

Sperbels (1008585) | about 2 years ago | (#42074869)

No it's not. North America and South America are two continents. America is an accepted name for the United States of America.

Re:America leader on clean energy, not Europe (1)

thoper (838719) | about 2 years ago | (#42075013)

Well, to be fair, after a short google expedition, America does seems to be an accepted name for the United States of America, but it is so ONLY in the United States of America. remember, in the Americas there are about 911 Million persons, including the 315(35%) Million currently in the USA

Re:America leader on clean energy, not Europe (2)

Slime-dogg (120473) | about 2 years ago | (#42075205)

Well, to be fair, after a short google expedition, America does seems to be an accepted name for the United States of America, but it is so ONLY in the United States of America.

This isn't really true. When you say that you're an "American" to nearly anyone in the world, the valid assumption they make is that you're from the USA. It only follows that an "American" would be from "America," being the USA.

Re:America leader on clean energy, not Europe (1)

samkass (174571) | about 2 years ago | (#42075463)

What other English-speaking country uses "Americans" to mean anyone in north or south america? My understanding is that Spanish and several other languages use it that way, and that it's a false cognate to translate that into English without changing the word.

Re:America leader on clean energy, not Europe (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42075155)

In English, America is a synonym for USA. In other languages however, especially Spanish, "America" is the word you use when talking about South + Central + North America.

Re:America leader on clean energy, not Europe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42075203)

According to Google, that's only a secondary definition. The primary definition is what United States citizens might refer to as "the Americas".

I see you have a very "American"-centered view of the world.

define:america [google.com]

Re:America leader on clean energy, not Europe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42075275)

"God bless Vespuciland .... "

Re:America leader on clean energy, not Europe (-1, Flamebait)

Pseudonym Authority (1591027) | about 2 years ago | (#42074871)

You are an idiot; go fuck yourself.

Re:America leader on clean energy, not Europe (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 2 years ago | (#42075109)

Now now, that's not a very nice way to exhibit your displeasure of another online post. Is it possible that in the future, you could be a bit more in control of your deportment?

Re:America leader on clean energy, not Europe (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42074985)

Everyone and their mother knows what someone means when they say America. They mean the US, because otherwise they would have said SOUTH America, or used the name of the specific country, or said the Americas plural if referring to both. Saying America and meaning the United States of America is no different than calling the United States of Mexico just Mexico. Stop being pedantic.

Re:America leader on clean energy, not Europe (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42075081)

"America" is an entirely common short name for United States of America, and has been for longer than any of us have been on this planet. We all know the geography, it's just convention, and there's no reason to get all pedantic about it when the context is obvious enough.

Re:America leader on clean energy, not Europe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42074819)

If Europe had been at all serious about CO2 reduction they would have leaned on Germany not to close down nuclear plants.

Germany has committed to reducing CO2 emissions; they can accomplish that any way they choose.

At the moment they are doing fine [world-nuclear-news.org] , in part due to heavy investment in renewable energy sources.

Re:America leader on clean energy, not Europe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42074853)

Obviously America is using less coal in order to meet emissions standards and using more expesive offerings which is causing coal to drop Thus it is being shipped to China and burned there which:
1 Makes America even less competitive as it increases the cost of domestic production for us while lowering China's costs
2 Increases overall emisions as all that coal will now need to be shipped overseas.

Re:America leader on clean energy, not Europe (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 2 years ago | (#42074919)

There is plenty of nuclear power construction in China and elsewhere including Finland. In the EU most of the alleged CO2 reductions are about higher efficiency automobiles and wind power generation. The rest of the situation isn't a whole lot different.

Re:America leader on clean energy, not Europe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42075165)

Thanks to Jimmy Carter, we have had a permanent ban on any new construction since his administration when he did his knee jerk reaction to 3MI. There has not been a single power reactor constructed in the US since then. Yes, there are research reactors, but actual reactors that actually generate power are not allowed. Even if they are, eco-activists (likely paid for by Big Coal/Big Oil) would be filing scores of lawsuits in efforts to stop the building.

Sadly, the future is coal, and getting shitty lignite coal (barely a step above peat) to work as a fuel, since the good stuff is long since burned off.

Re:America leader on clean energy, not Europe (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#42075213)

natural gas to use which burns without emitting CO2

LOLWUT?

It's a fossil fuel, CO2 emissions from it are relatively low but still present. And the extraction process is highly questionable at best...

Re:America leader on clean energy, not Europe (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42075235)

still building clean nuclear plants

Huh? I didn't think we were doing anything more than upgrading and/or refueling existing reactors.Wiki [wikipedia.org] indicates that we are building a few new reactors at existing sites, but that literally just a handfull are expected to come online in 2020!

That's a drop in the bucket.

It sounds like you've mistaken us for France. Building a nuke plant on a new site in the US is still next to impossible.

Don't get me wrong. New reactors on existing sites are great; but we need more than 5. We also need to get rid of some sites that are stupid, like Diablo Canyon and San Anofre (sp.?) which are Fukushimas waiting to happen.

Re:America leader on clean energy, not Europe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42075407)

We are also the only country going full speed ahead on fracking, giving us lots of natural gas to use which burns without emitting CO2.

CH4 + 2O2 => CO2 + 2H2O

Natural gas is only relatively clean, compared to coal. It is still a fossil fuel and still emits greenhouse gases when burned. We'd all be better off in the long run if we left the natural gas, coal and oil in the ground where it belogs.
America can only be considered a leader in clean energy if you ignore its massive overconsumption of energy of all types. Not that they're alone on that front.

Re:America leader on clean energy, not Europe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42075511)

Yow. Burning without co2? I mean, in our most basic chem class, we learn that the basic combustion products are h2o and co2. Natural gas is certainly better than coal, but it's not magical.

Get over it... (2)

Kergan (780543) | about 2 years ago | (#42074723)

Coal reserves are much higher than oil and gas reserves, and it's dirt cheap to extract when strip mined. The only real question is whether we'll make coal plants cleaner by using all sorts of filters.

... and oil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42074737)

We have figured out that burning fossil fuel is bad for climate change. What do we do? Fracking and burn more oil. Sigh.

So why did that prick lay off miners? (-1, Troll)

tekrat (242117) | about 2 years ago | (#42074803)

Murray Energy, run by a dipwad that poured a huge amount of cash into Mitt Romney's presidential aspirations, layed off miners and other workers the day after Obama's re-election claiming that Obama's war against coal meant that he could no longer afford to keep people employed.

Yet, Slashdot has posted a story saying worldwide demand for coal is up. So, either the numbers are wrong, or Murray made a half-assed political statement that had nothing to do with facts.

Hrmm... Wonder which it could be?

Re:So why did that prick lay off miners? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42074823)

Or Obama's policies make it too expensive to compete against cheap Chinese coal, even with demand up.

Re:So why did that prick lay off miners? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42074937)

Or maybe Murray is just making a political statement becase coal can't compete against cheap natural gas from fracking.

On Wednesday, Murray also laid off 54 people at American Coal, one of his subsidiary companies, and 102 at Utah American Energy, blaming a “war on coal” by the Obama administration. Although that charge was repeatedly leveled during the election, energy analysts say that the coal-mining business is suffering because of competition from low-cost natural gas and rising production costs of coal, especially in the Appalachian region.

The company was the subject of an article in the New Republic that said the firm forced miners to attend a Romney campaign speech in southeastern Ohio in August. Murray denied the account.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/after-obama-re-election-ceo-reads-prayer-to-staff-announces-layoffs/2012/11/09/e9bca204-2a63-11e2-bab2-eda299503684_story.html [washingtonpost.com]

Re:So why did that prick lay off miners? (4, Informative)

thrich81 (1357561) | about 2 years ago | (#42074965)

Since China is the world's largest IMPORTER of coal, there is no cheap Chinese coal on the world market. I didn't even have to RTFA to get that from the summary. The coal industry in the US is hurting because cheap natural gas is displacing it (free market at work, but Murray Energy blames it on Obama). Natural gas outside of the North American market is not (yet) so cheap so it is not pressuring coal outside N. America.

Re:So why did that prick lay off miners? (3, Informative)

proslack (797189) | about 2 years ago | (#42075095)

China and the US have similar reserves of coal (about a quarter of the world's supply each.) Coal is a PITA to transport compared to natural gas (weight vs. energy). There's lot's of natural gas in the Arctic http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petroleum_exploration_in_the_Arctic [wikipedia.org] , which is probably why China is building icebreakers http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MV_Xue_Long [wikipedia.org] . When their second one is built, they will have as many active as the U.S., which *is* an Arctic nation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arctic_Council [wikipedia.org] with corresponding mineral rights http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Convention_on_the_Law_of_the_Sea [wikipedia.org] .

Re:So why did that prick lay off miners? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42075231)

There's lot's of natural gas in the Arctic http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petroleum_exploration_in_the_Arctic [wikipedia.org], which is probably why China is building icebreakers http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MV_Xue_Long [wikipedia.org].

Next thing you know the PRC will draw a dotted line on a map that stretches through the Bering Strait.

Re:So why did that prick lay off miners? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42074865)

What are you, teh Socialist???/?

Why do you hate Americans' God-given right to prosperity and entitlement to profit?/???

Re:So why did that prick lay off miners? (2)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 2 years ago | (#42074967)

My guess is that the situation in the US is different from the rest of the world in that with the now widespread access to natural gas reserves and all the gas fired power plants built in the 90s it makes more economic sense to burn gas rather than use coal rather. Nothing to do with the alleged Obama policies.

Re:So why did that prick lay off miners? (1)

sycodon (149926) | about 2 years ago | (#42075099)

Elections have consequences.

Re:So why did that prick lay off miners? (0)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#42075325)

He's just a dick throwing a hissy fit to make a statement. Every right-wing employer either does this or fantasizes about it, depending on how much they can afford to lose on said hissy fit.

Our leaders have lost faith in CAGW (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42074839)

Our leaders have mostly lost faith in the doctrine of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming caused by our emissions of CO2 as we burn fossil fuels.

If our fearless leaders actually believed that we are in danger of runaway catastrophic global warming, they would never allow new coal power. Instead, they pay lip service to CO2 reduction while implementing policies that fly in the face of CO2 reduction.

It's much like the boy who cried wolf. People like Al Gore and James Hanson have been crying their alarmist warming for so long that influential people have stopped believing them. The downside is that those people have also stopped listening to the real scientists.

Re:Our leaders have lost faith in CAGW (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 2 years ago | (#42074993)

When the choice is between people freezing to death this winter from lack of power or the possibility someone may die from a heat wave sometime in the future when the politician is retired there is little wonder why things are proceeding in this fashion.

Solution: less people on Earth (1)

gtirloni (1531285) | about 2 years ago | (#42074917)

That way each one individually get to spend their current share without overloading the planet.

I don't see another solution. It seems countries have better _actual_ results in convincing people to have less children than using green energy.

Re:Solution: less people on Earth (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42075267)

There is always some stupid fuck that comes up with this idea.

And always, you are invited to be the first to reduce the surplus population by putting a gun in your mouth.

Re:Solution: less people on Earth (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42075279)

Indeed, the solution should be more people in the earth so that they become coal and gas for future generations.

The Foundation (1)

chthon (580889) | about 2 years ago | (#42074923)

So we are already sliding back, and we haven't even had an Empire and a Foundation.

Pretty bizarre definition of 'love' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42074995)

I wouldn't say "Falls back in love with" so much as "Is fearmongering over everything else moreso than coal".

That's like saying a woman staying with a guy out of fear who beats her less than the previous boyfriend is falling in love with him.

Just because you go with an option because you're avoiding the others out of fear doesn't mean you love that option. It means you hate it the least. Just like Obama winning the last election.

Chart (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42075033)

This chart shows why so many americans deny global warming:
http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/64302000/gif/_64302444_demand_coal_imports_464.gif

But coal doesn't cause tsunamis like nuclear does! (4, Funny)

John Hasler (414242) | about 2 years ago | (#42075035)

Fukushima killed 20,000 people! Think what a tsunami like that would do in central Europe!

Besides, Europe is going to be 100% solar and wind powered in five years. I think hand-cranked generators are the way to go, though. Think of all the jobs that would be created.

Re:But coal doesn't cause tsunamis like nuclear do (1)

dcbrianw (1154925) | about 2 years ago | (#42075129)

It astounds me that people who call themselves, "green," because they have a car that runs on a battery. I'm not talking about hybrid cars, but rather the ones that plug into a charging station, a majority of which have a power plant powered by coal supplying it energy.

Re:But coal doesn't cause tsunamis like nuclear do (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#42075307)

Still cleaner unless it's 100% coal or very close to it. A dirtier electric car is only possible in a few places in the US and China. In most places they would be FAR cleaner.

Re:But coal doesn't cause tsunamis like nuclear do (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 2 years ago | (#42075405)

Or the people who deride others for flying, as they prefer to go by high speed train. Tip: traversing a country like France by plane is actually greener, unless that high speed train is powered by those nice French nuclear power stations.

Re:But coal doesn't cause tsunamis like nuclear do (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42075217)

"But coal doesn't cause tsunamis like nuclear does!"

I'd like to know a reference to the causal link between nuclear plants and eartquakes.

Heck, France must be very wary from now on. Maybe the Mediterrean Sea may go nuts anytime now

Re:But coal doesn't cause tsunamis like nuclear do (4, Informative)

Nova77 (613150) | about 2 years ago | (#42075479)

The nuclear accident of Fukushima has yet to kill *a single person* due to radiation. I don't know where you get your data, but surely it's not factual.

Greenpeace (4, Insightful)

doconnor (134648) | about 2 years ago | (#42075087)

It seems to me the Greenpeace's successful campaign against nuclear power and failure to campaign against coal power has been a major cause of global warming. No doubt Greenpeace knew or should have known since the 1980s how much worse coal is for the environment.

Coal can be done cleanly-ish. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42075107)

The problem is everyone is too lazy / cheap tp do the very inexpensive upgrades needed to deal with coal emissions.
And no, I don't mean CCS. Or at least not the S part. Not entirely, anyway.

Still more hassle than it is worth.
Nuclear is safe if you aren't a complete moron who cheaps out in the construction. (HMM JAPAN HMMHMM, this throat sure is sore)
In fact, it is more safer today than it was back when most plants were built.
And that isn't even going in to the breeder reactors.

Not True of the USA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42075111)

None of this applies to the United States. Operators of coal plants are routinely shutting them down these days as the cost of known regulation (and the threat of future regulations) makes them uneconomic to retrofit, especially in the current low power price environment.
Where load growth necessitates additional capacity, high-efficiency combined cycle gas turbines are being built given the strong economics of running natural gas plants in the current low natural gas price environment.
The idea that there is a net move from gas to coal in the United States, is patently false.

World, USA, China and UK energy flows (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42075195)

Here's a visualization of energy flows [blogspot.ca] (including coal) for the World, USA, UK and China for 2007

heat your home with decaying atoms! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42075199)

wow if there's climate change it all originates from the sun.
sure we can blanket the earth in a layer of "bad" gases, like on venus,
and heat up the atmosphere.
next: " coal, the dirtiest and most polluting of all the major fossil fuels."
sure if you think short term. but fortunately there's life on this planet
and some of it depends very much on the gaseous form of carbon
in the atmosphere in the form of carbon-dioxide.
it is very much a carbon-cycle.
nothing on the other hand depends on radioactive waste to survive.
sure, short term, nuclear waste production might be clean, compared to
coal, but nothing but time will scrub this sh1t from the biosphere.
so carbon-dioxide is BAD because it traps SUNRAYS in the atmosphere,
BUT why don't we TRAP the SUNRAYS with solar cells in the first place?
or with plants?
plant more forests, which coincidentally also produce more
precipitation, which is like a anti-gravity mechanism to transport water
to the top of the hydro-dam.
-
yes, i wouldn't want to live near a coal plant.
if you can't fight them, join 'em. go out with a bang, like the guys on wall street.
who cares what comes after ...

Zeta Power (4, Informative)

Penurious Penguin (2687307) | about 2 years ago | (#42075329)

This should be great for the zeta cartels - it seems they've expanded from drugs and mass-murder to the coal industry. [allgov.com]

Now when we do such things as turn on a light, we can relish more than our collective carbon boot-print on the Earth's bemired face -- we can smile as we bask in the sanguineous luminosity of torture and intoxication too!

The scientific community isn't serious about AGW.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42075377)

Because if they were they'd be pouring money into and dedicating their time to researching alternative forms of energy that are more advanced than burning fossil fuels, namely fusion and its various forms, including cold fusion and the polywell. Which based on the evidence are two of the simplest ways to achieve it.

Now for those too young to remember it, it took an act of god and seeing a direct one to one relationship between CFC production and Ozone Layer depletion to get the major nations of the world to stop producing CFC's. So while the evidence of AGW is there, the timescale doesn't work nearly as quickly and the consequences of inaction aren't nearly as serious to most people ergo it's nearly impossible to get anyone including governments to take it seriously.

Therefore instead of trying to change human behavior by legislation and forcing people to use less efficient and less dense sources (e.g., solar and wind) of power understand that human progress has consisted of going from less energy dense sources of power to sources of energy that are more energy dense (e.g., wood to coal to oil). Therefore it is more efficient to simply introduce technology that harnesses more powerful energy sources, in this case fusion by way of cold fusion or the polywell than trying to change human behavior by law, particularly when such cheap sources of energy like coal are still utilized for obvious reasons.

As for those who are skeptical about cold fusion understand that one doesn't stop research in an area because replication is difficult, one persists because that's what research entails, persistence in the face of difficulty with the full knowledge that success is possible. Also, since for human civilization our only choices are continued use of fossil fuels and more environmental damage or fusion.

Flamebait (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42075443)

As always, an AGW-spiced article triggers a heated discussion among a bunch of computer programmers having a limited understanding of the subject.

Where does 'falling coal price' data come from? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42075497)

In upstate NY several coal-fired electric power stations have shutdown due to the INCREASING price of coal caused by increased demand in China and elsewhere.

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