Coal is not moving the United States backwards.

 

During the 2017 Politicon debate between Ann Coulter and Ana Kasparian, Ana Kasparian argued that the coal industry is moving us backwards.  Also it is often argued by many Democrats that investing in the coal industry is a “leap backwards”.  The problem is that this is not actually true.  First of all what the president wants to do is create job growth in the united states by removing regulations that inhibit the ability of growth in certain sectors.  The energy industry is a huge sector for potential job growth in the United States.  The democrats are basically saying that we need to invest in more “clean” energy.  But there are several misconceptions, the first most obvious misconception is, there are other options.  Actually, there are no other options, we must ramp up coal mining.

Clean energy can be divided into two categories

  1. Fantasia (Such as zero point energy, etc…  While these ideas maybe theoretically possible “in the future”, there is no guarantee and it is highly theoretical.)
  2. Existing clean/renewable energy such as Solar, and Wind.

The obvious problem with #1 is we cannot count on this as an energy solution NOW.  Until we actually demonstrate that fusion is possible and can replace petroleum there are no sufficient reason to throw away investments on it.

The less obvious problem with #2 is that our existing clean energy solutions are not sufficient solutions to replace petroleum and never will be.  The total amount of existing clean energy in the world rests somewhere between 2% and 4%.  That does not even come close to our existing dependency on petroleum.

 

 

 

It might be worth noting that we are nearing the end of the petroleum age based on the peak-oil predictions of the 1970’s which did not account for a newly discovered method of drilling shale oil.  However, the reality of the end of the petroleum age has yet to sink in.  We are not finding the high quality oil mines that we used to get in the last 150 years.  The reserves are harder and harder to get.  The energy return investment is far lower than cheap oil fields.  We used up most of the easiest to get oil.  The energy return investment has been falling continuously over decades.  It has reached a very low level.  Which is creating epic problems.  We need to invest more and more money into capex exploration, and the demand for crude oil has grown an average of 1.76% per year each year since 1994.

Once all of the oil has been used up the economy will enter into a thermodynamic collapse.  Our dependency on oil is directly responsible for the growth of petroleum man.  The last 150 years is the age of the petroleum man.  Without petroleum, petroleum man would never have reached the 7+ billion population.  We are still petroleum man, and until we can replace oil, coal, and natural gas we will remain petroleum man.  Wind and solar are not feasible replacements of petroleum.  Not even nuclear energy comes close.

Just because a thermodynamic collapse of our economy is somewhere over the horizon does not mean we can be prepared for such an event.  In fact, we will not be prepared for it.

In retrospect Trump is not wrong about creating job growth for the coal industry.  It creates jobs in the united states which is the platform Trump campaigned on.  That does not send us backwards.  It is not like we are “expending resources” to allow for the coal industry to grow.  We are just simply lifting regulations.  The coal industry flourishes by itself minus the regulations that Obama had imposed on it.  Trump has created 50,000 new jobs this year simply by lifting that regulation.  The only thing that can be said intelligibly about the coal industry that has any value, is that it helps to boost the economy.  We are still able to invest in many different sub-sectors of the energy sector, despite growth in the coal industry.