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Coal Must Embrace All-Out Battle with Eco-Bullies

Meekly accepting blame for climate change dooms the industry and the greater economy.

Dr. Tim Ball and Tom Harris


December 18, 2013 - 12:00 am

Imagine you have been wrongfully arrested, charged with murdering a child. Although the evidence against you is sketchy, the police have no other suspects, and with the government anxious to appease those demanding justice, your case is rushed to trial. Your lawyer decides that with public sentiment strongly against you, the best course of action is to plead guilty and to throw yourself at the mercy of the court.

But then, police find eyewitnesses who place you miles from the scene of the crime when it occurred. Your lawyer even discovers that the victim’s body has yet to be found — and there is now some question as to whether the child ever existed. With a sense of relief you head to court, confident this new information will lead to the case being dismissed.

But to your astonishment, your lawyer does not even bring up evidence of your innocence. Instead he pleads for leniency, which gives the court moral authority to punish you for a crime you never committed and perhaps never even happened.

This insane scenario is analogous to what is happening to one of America’s most important industries and the source of 40% of the nation’s electricity: coal. Accused of causing dangerous climate change due to its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, coal-fired electric power is in the crosshairs of a president anxious to be seen as taking action to stop global warming and extreme weather.

That global warming stopped 17 years ago, and extreme weather has not increased despite an 8% rise in CO2? This is never referenced by President Barack Obama or his Environmental Protection Agency.

That even the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is now backing away from several of its most important claims of human-caused climate Armageddon? Also ignored.

Coal-fired electricity must be replaced with “clean energy” to save the climate, they still say. This approach completely disregards what happened in Europe when that approach was tried: economies collapsed and people froze to death, driven into poverty by unmanageable energy bills.

You would think the coal industry would launch an all-out media blitz, taking full advantage of the current temperature plateau and the IPCC’s retreat on the science. They could also reference the thousands of peer-reviewed scientific papers cited by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, which clearly demonstrate that the science backing the EPA’s position is rapidly disintegrating.

A reasonable person would expect coal to proclaim their industry’s innocence of the climate crime of which they stand accused, using the overwhelming evidence that global warming fears are greatly exaggerated.

But, no, with only a few exceptions, coal leaders plead guilty to producing “climate-change emissions,” as Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) labeled CO2 at the massive coal rally in Washington, D.C., in October. Rather than contest the science propping up climate fears and the anti-coal movement, they throw themselves at the mercy of the court of public opinion, complaining that hundreds of thousands of coal sector workers will lose their jobs and that prices will skyrocket as the nation’s least expensive source of electricity is turned off.

The relaxed response from climate activists to these messages tells us that this approach has no chance of working.

Groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council clearly recognize that the arguments presented at politically correct coal rallies can’t hold a candle to “saving the planet” in the eyes of the press, not to mention in the eyes of the public and politicians outside of coal-dependent areas of the country.

In fact, the Obama administration has already accepted that employment in the coal sector will be ruined and that energy prices will soar, especially in states that currently enjoy low electricity costs due to extensive coal usage. Appearing to be on the side of Mother Earth trumps concerns about the welfare of people from regions of the country that generally oppose the president already.

The only way to save coal is to convince opinion leaders, and thus the public, that the administration’s excuse for killing it is misguided. There is no climate crisis happening. The science that supports climate fears is unreliable.

Most industry and political leaders who support coal understand this very well. So why do so few of them bring this up?

Apparently, they stay quiet because they would rather see the coal sector in America die than risk serious conflict with activists and their government and media allies. Many leaders in the coal sector are wealthy enough that the end of coal will not significantly hurt them personally. They can simply retire or quietly move to other sectors of the economy as coal mines close and miners are forced into unemployment and poverty.

Dedicated coal sector workers must demand that their leaders defend the sector vigorously, or pass on the responsibility to those who will.

They need to remind their spokespeople that you get the most flak when you are over the target. If climate activists are not mounting counter-demonstrations to rallies and other meetings in support of coal, then sector spokespeople are not doing their jobs properly.

A quote from Patrick Henry’s speech in 1775 at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia, sums up the inevitability of intense conflict with climate activists if coal is to survive:

Gentlemen may cry, peace, peace but there is no peace.  … The war is inevitable and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.

Dr. Tim Ball is a Victoria, British Columbia-based environmental consultant and former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg. Tom Harris is the Executive Director of the International Climate Science Coalition.

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Top Rated Comments   
All energy should be taxed... based on the finite nature of the resourse? Really?

I have a hard time justifying ANY tax, for any reason. ("Tax" is the government word for theft.) But especially because it's a finite resource. I mean, so what if it's finite? We should leave it in the ground because, if we don't, one day we'll run out of it? That doesn't make any sense. What? We're supposed to not use it so it's there for us not to use in the future?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Fact check: Barack Obama is not the least bit interested in taking action to stop global warming and extreme weather. What he is actually anxious to accomplish is the total destruction of the American way of life. Global warming is nothing more than a cover for this. As is universal healthcare, income inequality, and a host of other distractions that he constantly throws in our face.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
No, using coal to make electricity is severely impacted by a weird mix of environmental regulations. Old power plants that make too much real pollution have been grandfathered since the early 70s while construction of new low-pollution coal plants and upgrades to existing plants are blocked by EPA CO2 regulations. Natural gas power plants and new natural gas supplied are great, but coal was competitive until the EPA started regulating CO2 as a pollutant.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (36)
All Comments   (36)
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There is NO Carbon climate forcing, only FORCED Carbon commodity marketing, taxes and controls. There is NO 'sustainable' energy as every green meanie scheme requires more energy to create than it produces. There is NO 'peak' oil as Hydrocarbons are constantly produced by Earths fission process. See "Becoming A TOTAL Earth Science Skeptic" and be skeptical of over paid, under trained, bobble head professors with pal/peer reviews of their echo chamber FALSE hypothesis.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
my co-worker's sister-in-law makes $88/hr on the internet. She has been unemployed for eight months but last month her pay was $12798 just working on the internet for a few hours.
Go Here
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment


Natural gas is one of our most abundant energy sources and should be exploited to the greatest extent. The country can reduce imports of oil from overseas and also reduce carbon dioxide emissions by making natural gas available to all practical places in the U. S. Reducing carbon dioxide emissions in itself accomplishes nothing; however, the efficiencies in energy use saves billions.

About forty percent of our residences use electricity for heating, water heating, and cooking. Making natural gas available to these residences can reduce energy consumption by about two-thirds for these activities. It roughly takes 3 Btu of energy (coal or natural gas) to make one Btu of electricity used to provide heat, hot water, and cooking. Heat pumps can reduce this waste; but are expensive and not practical in many locations. This should reduce carbon dioxide emissions by at least 200 million tons per year and reduce energy consumption by about 2 quadrillion Btu.

Many homes, in particular in the North East, use heating oil for heating. This can be eliminated by providing natural gas to these residences. In some North East areas and Hawaii, oil is used to make electricity. Natural gas can be provided to any of the 49 states that use oil for generating electricity. Liquefied natural gas can be provided Hawaii for electricity generation and heating, water heating, and cooking and stop its imports of oil from the Asia. All of these activities could probably reduce U. S. oil consumption by 1 million barrels per day.

These energy and money savings ideas should have been adopted 40 years ago after the first oil embargo. Unfortunately, our governments are run by individuals with no economic or scientific sense and we have been stuck in this wasteful use of oil and electricity ever since.

Save natural gas for use in the activities just described, transportation, and chemical manufacturing. Allows its use for export as LNG to make big reductions in balance of payments. Use coal for generating electricity as its an energy resource best suited for that purpose.

Coal is an ideal energy sources for electricity generation. It is abundant, inexpensive, high energy density, and safely storable on location at power plants. Months supply of coal is available at power plants which prevent them from being subject to supply disruptions from natural disasters such as the 2005 hurricane Katrina that disrupted natural gas supply. Disruptions can also take place due to work stoppages from labor disputes. These remarks about use of coal also apply to the use of nuclear energy for electricity generation.

There are many complaints about coal use due to pollution from stack gases such as mercury, sulfur dioxide, and carbon dioxide. From a practical point of view, mercury from coal use is not a problem because the amounts are negligible in comparison to mercury pollution from natural events. However, pollution controls on stack gases, such as scrubbers, can reduce pollutants to levels that pose no health problems. My recent observation of the disappearance of tarnish on silver shows sulfur dioxide levels are greatly reduced compared to forty years ago.

Much angst exists among environmentalist about coal use because it emits about fifty percent more carbon dioxide per unit of energy than natural gas. Carbon dioxide is an airborne fertilizer that benefits plants through greater crop yields and larger root systems that makes plants more drought resistant. Hundreds of thousands of years of experimental data show changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide have an insignificant affect on climate. So fear of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from coal use should be laid to rest. Over the past fifteen years the planet has experienced an 8 percent increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide with no increase in global temperatures.

Replacing natural gas for electric power generation with coal can extend fossil fuel energy resources for centuries. As an added point, increased use of nuclear power for electricity generation also may add centuries to availability of fossil fuels. For what it is worth; nuclear power may have the smallest carbon dioxide output per kilowatt-hour of any energy resource.

Everyone should realize the U. S. economy thrives by manufacturing items people want to purchase. Energy in the form of coal, oil, and natural gas are the same as building cars or growing corn. 500 tons of coal, 300 barrels of oil, or 6 million cubic feet of natural gas have the same value as a $30,000 car or 10,000 bushels of corn. They are sold everywhere for the same amount of money.Unleash energy production for the country and unemployment would plummet to near zero and prosperity would be the United State future for many decades. Obstacles placed by governments, most notably the U. S. federal government, are the chief reason for the economic malaise besetti
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"a president anxious to be seen as taking action to stop global warming and extreme weather"
Why do I hear Maxwell Smart saying "That's what they'd like you to believe"?
He's anxious to continue his vendetta against the American economy, capitalism, and the Constitution.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The energy industry believed the lie. Coal and the others went on and gave the donations to Obama's campaign with the promise that his speeches were all rhetorical, and once were in office blah blah blah.
The same goes for the Unions, The AMA, AARP, Big health care - all of them fell for the lie. They did not see Obama was a full on Marxist at best. The insurance companies and the Unions will be bitterly disappointed in themselves for falling for the socialist trap. Obamacare will not work with big carve-outs. The unions either didn't read the bill, or had assurances it would be changed later. Ha ha ha!

The energy sector and Insurance sector would have gotten more bang for their buck had they just put out TV ads warning the public, and using facts to back up their warnings. Instead, they made a deal with the devil - get ready for the burn boys!!. At least until 2017.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Coal is a valuable energy source for electric power generation. It is extremely abundant, inexpensive, high energy density, and safely stored on plant site. Months of coal can be stored at a plant which makes natural disasters such as hurricane Katrina in 2005 not disrupt supply as happened to natural gas. Coal can extend fossil fuel lifetimes for centuries and provide cheap electricity.

Carbon dioxide from burning coal is not a pollution. Pollution such as sulfur dioxide can be removed form stack gases. Mercury emissions are negligible compared to natural mercury emissions. I recently noticed silver-plated trays in my open-air attic did not have tarnish on them which was a problem 40 years ago.

Use natural gas for heating, water heating, cooking, producing chemicals, and transportation. Then export natural gas for profits to help trade imbalances.

James H. Rust, Professor of nuclear engineering
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Professor Rust says: "Months of coal can be stored at a plant which makes natural disasters such as hurricane Katrina in 2005 not disrupt supply as happened to natural gas." Yes, good point indeed. Also, as you can see at: , people who want to replace coal with NG never like to tell us the cost of building all the NG infrastructure to replace coal.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Honestly, the beauty of coal is that IT'S PREPACKAGED. Hell, you can throw it raw onto a barge, a stove, a powerplant. You don't have to do anything TO it. I know, I know, scrubbers, etc., but those factors apply to other things.
I would love to know if any companies have worked on new designs for powerplants that would obviate the need for scrubbers in the first place.

Coal is a battery of stored energy. Its highest use is for energy production.
It is the penultimate product of solar powered production. Sol, our sun, gave us this.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Rand called it 50 years ago.

The Sanction of the Victim.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There is a way for the coal industry and coal-fired power plants to fight back. Just take the government at its word and close down completely, cold turkey. Years ago, Kyle Mills wrote a novel, "Smoke Screen", about the tobacco industry doing exactly this. They took the government at its word and closed down completely, cold turkey. The resultant unemployment, loss of tax revenue, and an angry citizenry brought the governments, federal, state, local, to heel PDQ. Imagine if big coal did this. I assure you that the governments would come to heel immediately as the lights went out all over the country all of a sudden. Doing this could start something like getting the government under control and to shut the fat mouths that aggravate everyonein the country. Just take the government at its word and shut down until they shut up.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
CO2 rises, fossil fuel consumption rises. In synch, no? No. They do not fluctuate together; they are parallel and independent. Consumption drops and peaks do not correspond to CO2 level changes.

So, aside from the independence of temperature from CO2 ( CO2 is also independent of consumption. Double irrelevance of carbon(-dioxide) controls.

The irrelevance of US consumption to global emissions is an unnecessary 3rd layer.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
That is somewhat misleading in that seasonal changes, the beginning and ending of the growing season cause predictable fluctuation, but that does not prove that the overall level is not rising because of the burning of fossil fuels. There are those who think we can help the "problem" by having more grasslands, which get managed a certain way.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Why does the coal industry remain so silent, instead of vigorously defending themselves with facts?
It is obvious that they're mostly Republicans, therefore members of The Stupid Party!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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