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The Coming Age of Coal

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One birth every 8 seconds, one death every 12 seconds, net gain = one person ever 14 seconds; reaching 10.85 billion at the end of the 21st century.   In the 1880s, when the first coal-fired power plants were built in the 1880s,   world population was 1.5 billion.  



The world surpassed the one billion milestone in 2011; 60 million new cars roll off assembly lines every year; the number of cars in 30 years.



Coal will overtake oil as the world's main source of energy by 2020.   There are more than 620 in China alone.   China , India, are other populous countries are heavily dependent on coal for heat and light.   China's annual consumption exceeded one billion tons in late 1980s and is now four times that amount -- 4 billion tons ; China gets about 70% of its energy from the fossil fuel. Also, much of the coal burned in these countries is lignite: a relatively cheap, low-quality, high sulfur, "dirty" fuel source.


From Coal fired power plant
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Plans are currently underway to ship "brown coal" too dirty to burn from the southwestern corner of Montana to China.   "In a state with a population of roughly 1 million," writes Rick Bass, "the fate or future of 7 billion -- and all who come afterward -- rests." :  A rail line -- the Tongue River Railroad, funded in part by Warren Buffett -- is being proposed to ferry the coal in open boxcars miles long, from Otter Creek to older, existing rail lines. Cattle ranches that have been in families for generations will be taken by eminent domain"


Mr. Buffett's coal train -- countless chains of mile-long open-topped boxcars trundling steadfastly across the West and then the Pacific Northwest to their ports in Washington, and then to Asia, with the trains' black dust swirling through one community after another, boxcars clanking at all hours of the night at decibels beyond the limits of any ordinance, yet immune to such laws -- will result in increased respiratory ailments and other illnesses, and guarantee the rising of sea levels to the point that we could see as many as a billion environmental refugees in our lifetime"


"If you could speak out against a slow-motion train wreck, you would, wouldn't you?"

From Coal Train Cars
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The EPA is currently holding a series of "public listening sessions" on reducing carbon emissions at coal-fired power plants.   The first meetings have taken place in Atlanta, Denver,   New York City, and Lenexa, Kansas (a suburb of Kansas City); others are slated for Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

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Tom Magstadt earned his doctorate in international relations at Johns Hopkins (SAIS). He is a twice-tenured college professor and political science chair. He also served as a foreign intelligence analyst, a Visiting Professor at the Air University (more...)
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