The Rebirth Of Big Coal

For decades, coal had been shrinking in its percentage of global energy use, due to its dirty nature as well as the destructive manner in which it is extracted. But in the past year, it has had a resurgence, growing by 5.4% in the past year to the highest point it has been since 1969. It now accounts for 30.9% of global energy use, surpassed only by oil. According to this report from British Petroleum, worldwide demand for coal is not only increasing, they expect it to continue to increase far faster than other sources for the immediate future.

The main reasons given? The spike in growth in developing nations. Due to the migration of manufacturing and labor from industrialized nations, which moved away from coal due to the numerous issues associated, to these undeveloped nations, there has been a spike in the demand for cheap power. The cheapest power to set up, if you do not address its cost to clean up, is coal, with the result being this global trend. With the growth in outsourcing and offshoring fueling this spike in coal demand, is it any wonder that certain political camps are eager to increase the rate of both?


This trend means an acceleration of climate change concerns, as coal remains one of the primary causes of increased CO2 levels according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, as well as a primary source for other air pollution including mercury, cadmium, and even radioactive isotopes such as uranium. Combining with the amount of coal produced per year, just under 4 billion tons, the potential for climate disaster looms over us all. And with the increased consumption of coal means larger profits for the coal industries, including those who have proven themselves to wish to subvert the political process, such as Koch Industries.