remember it, but you may have never seen any, because it’s already been burned. (Best first, remember?) As is the case with all other finite natural resources, it is progressing from pure and concentrated to funky and diffuse. Had you evolved large brains significantly before you evolved thumbs, coal would have had a delightful and logical use: injecting judicious amounts of CO 2 into the air at the onset of ice ages to moderate their sev erity. You’d have had enough to keep your world ice-age-free for many millions of years. That could come in handy versus having your planet’s northern and temperate regions repeatedly covered by mile-thick sheets of ice for tens of thousands of years at a time. Just sayin’... However, at present you’re opting to burn as much coal as humanly possible, as fast as possible, which is clearly the other way to go. This will – if you continue to maximize GDP - seemingly amount to a re-enactment of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) 56 million years ago, which will mean all sorts of dire ecological things. You might contrast it with an “ice age” by calling it a “steam age,” which in a roughly analogous way would also keep you from using parts of the Earth y ou’ve grown fond of, not to mention requiring mass migrations toward the poles. Oh, and the oceans would turn to purple scum and start emitting poison gas, so there’s that. You lucked out incredibly and just happened to inherit a multi-million-year “ice age cure,” but instead went for “door number two” and took immediate brain stimulation, a steam age, and THEN ice ages. Pretty much worst-case use, like a kid who inherits a million-dollar stamp collection, but rather than selling it, uses the stamps to send postcards. There’s more than enough low -grade coal in the ground to cook the Ea rth’s biosphere with greenhouse gasses several times over. So why do I think that in a hundred years your “global elite” will still be using it “on a temporary basis” to run air conditioners? There’s a reason my species refers to coal - like substances as “carbon traps.”
As I said, coal is cool stuff. It isn’t a fossil FUEL, it’s just fossil CARBON. This is the worst possible time to burn it.
The Bottom Line: Coal is one of the five major pools of terrestrial carbon. Though it is getting more costly to extract, there is much more left than we can currently safely burn.
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