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Peak Coal?
June 23, 2007 10:40 PM   Subscribe

Is the USA the Saudi Arabia of Coal? Not so fast! It appears that US coal reserves have been grossly overstated. (See also this report in PDF format.) Does this mean we've already hit peak coal in the lower 48? How does this change the plans of those who want to use CTL to ease our dependence on foreign oil.
posted by Crotalus (28 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Intresting. I've often wondered if Peak Oil (and now possibly peak coal) would limit greenhouse gas emissions. I mean obviously the world contains a limited amount of hydrocarbons.
posted by delmoi at 11:03 PM on June 23, 2007


I'm afraid I reached Peak Worry some time ago and my ability to produce more worry is declining over time.
posted by Justinian at 11:42 PM on June 23, 2007 [17 favorites]


Coal to Liquid fuel, from what I've read - coming from an environmentalist perspective has never been a feasible way of reducing our environmental impact with gasoline driven vehicles. But still - with CO2 sequestering / capturing - it seemed that there would at least be a path that these behemoths could take that would protect the environment (to some degree) and their profits with coal fired power plants.

This is intensely disturbing, if true, for the people of Appalachia - who depend on coal for their livelihood. I've certainly never thought that the US was deficient in coal, and if true - it would certainly alter my outlook on energy policy here in the states.
posted by icosahedral at 12:29 AM on June 24, 2007


Fear not dear UnitedStatesians, there is abundant coal for all in little old Australia. Though, you might need to queue for it.
posted by mattoxic at 12:29 AM on June 24, 2007


icosahedral: Replacing gasoline with Liquid Coal from plants that sequester CO2 produces about the same total greenhouse gas emissions. However, if sequestration isn't used, the greenhouse gas emissions actually double. This is from a chart I've seen.
posted by delmoi at 12:37 AM on June 24, 2007


This doesn't surprise me - as coal is dirty, dirty, dirty. I'm wondering what Obama's reaction to this news will be, since he's been so hot on CtL.

(I'd love to see the chart, if it's online.)
posted by icosahedral at 12:48 AM on June 24, 2007


coal is dirty, dirty, dirty

how i enjoy my learning experiences of playing SimCity as a child...
posted by blastrid at 1:40 AM on June 24, 2007


That said, when are we gonna get Fusion? Have we reached the high-tech industry population requirement yet?
posted by blastrid at 1:41 AM on June 24, 2007


Fear not dear UnitedStatesians, there is abundant coal for all in little old Australia. Though, you might need to queue for it.

I wouldn't call it abundant.

A couple days ago I interviewed the man who wrote this article. More info here.
posted by andihazelwood at 1:48 AM on June 24, 2007


News at 11 : there is less oil ! Less carbon ! Less vegemite ! Sex is at a lowest point ever (as if it was ever high ) ! OH NOES !

News at 12 : price of oil rises or remains the same high !

News at 13 : baffled mathematician commit suicide as their beloved equations can't explain why price of oil rised more then proportionally and with spikes that are neither linear nor exponential, while the demand remained quantitatively almost the same ! The mathematician left this note : " I am not a mean person, never was ! Varianse, my beloved, pardon me !"

When asked about the ongoing nonsense, The 7 sisters' chief financial engineers didn't answer as they were too busy preparing papers and towels to attend the most important world symposium on the question "Price is high and I have enjoy the cash flow. Why care, I always wanted to be a ballerina anyway".

The symposium is to be held at Hawaii, obviously only because this will help prevent the g8 disrupting young hippies from attending en masse ; Hula dancers seen moving en masse from Las Vegas to Hawaii. World prostitute convention to be held in a nearby nameless island.
posted by elpapacito at 2:27 AM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


The report seems to say that at todays prices and todays consumption rate we would run out in 100 years -- which to me sounds like a peak in 100 years -- because only after that does it get more expensive to get the coal.
posted by stbalbach at 4:37 AM on June 24, 2007


stbalbach writes "only after that does it get more expensive to get the coal."

Let's rise price in advance, so we compensate for the future increase of cost ! *grin*
posted by elpapacito at 5:04 AM on June 24, 2007


Can I start wearing a goalie mask and driving a dune buggy covered with spikes yet?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:32 AM on June 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


*digs foxholes, covers them with tarps with sand on top, awaits thewhiteskull and friends behind them with bows and flaming arrows*
posted by pyramid termite at 8:39 AM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


They are still building freeways in Los Angeles.
posted by Brian B. at 9:32 AM on June 24, 2007


Thank you, andihazelwood, that interview is awesome. I've seen a DVD of one of his lectures, and was just delighted by it. It's great to see that he's out in wider circulation on the web.

And, besides the fact that he's right, I swear he and my grandfather were separated at birth, so that's fun, too.
posted by MadDog Bob at 9:37 AM on June 24, 2007


pyramid termite:

Just walk away. I will give you safe passage in the Wasteland.

Just walk away and there will be an end to the horror.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:41 AM on June 24, 2007


Not to Godwin this thread or anything, but it's interesting to note that at least three countries have used liquified coal for fuel in the past: South Africa, Japan (during WWII), and Nazi Germany.
posted by A dead Quaker at 9:55 AM on June 24, 2007


That is why we need to start building nuke plants at a rapid pace.
posted by caddis at 10:30 AM on June 24, 2007


They are still building freeways in Los Angeles.

The Seattle metro area is divided into two by a pretty large lake, Lake Washington. Nearly every traffic problem is caused by people trying to get from one side to the other. There are two bridges, I-90 and WA-520. There is no mass transit.

They are widening the bridges, of course, and taking twenty years to do it. I can't figure out who is going to be able to afford to drive their single-occupancy vehicle across them when they're done.
posted by blacklite at 11:16 AM on June 24, 2007


Once again, Alberta to the rescue. Off to see Antibalas tonight at SAIT with all the other rednecks.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 3:05 PM on June 24, 2007


Can I start wearing a goalie mask and driving a dune buggy covered with spikes yet?

Funny how Hollywood's post-apocalyptic futures still have fuel...
posted by kisch mokusch at 3:06 PM on June 24, 2007


I can't figure out who is going to be able to afford to drive their single-occupancy vehicle across them when they're done.

You will. I guarantee it.

Catastrophe has been around since ... since ... well, since they were making people. I love how the Wikipedia entry for Peak Oil doesn't include the "this could all be horseshit" caveat, or at least a link to the Simon-Ehrlich wager page.

Everyone should look forward to their 2027 Honda Electric Accord. It'll have heated seats and plenty of cupholders for your teenagers.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:17 PM on June 24, 2007


Just walk away.

ah, hell, what fun is that?
posted by pyramid termite at 3:24 PM on June 24, 2007


That is why we need to start building nuke plants at a rapid pace.

Let the countdown to Peak Uranium begin!
posted by hangashore at 4:12 PM on June 24, 2007


I don't think peak oil has any likelyhood of being horse shit unless the abiotic oil people are right, and I wouldn't bet money on that.

It may be something we don't have to worry about right now, but I'm sure a new generation of 5 mpg cars will help us there.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:59 PM on June 24, 2007


The idea that at some point, possibly some point very soon, oil we extract from the ground will get scarcer and thus more expensive isn't horse shit, Charlemagne. What is almost certainly horseshit is the more extreme sky-falling hysteria that seems to accompany such an observation.

What will happen is that some things will get more expensive. That's it. That's all that will happen.

A lot of people don't seem to realize that we can make synthetic petroleum right now. Right now! It just costs more than pulling it out of the ground. When it doesn't, we'll start making the oil we need.

Let me repeat; We Will Never Run Out Of Petroleum. We can make the stuff.
posted by Justinian at 9:08 PM on June 24, 2007


The environmental catastrophe perpetrated by Massey Energy in West Virgina alone is shocking to outsiders.

VBS.TV 2 3 4 5 6
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:49 AM on June 25, 2007


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