8 year old Prabhat Sinha, from Assam, carries a load of coal weighing 60kg, supported by a head-strap, as he ascends the staircase of a coal mine on April 16, 2011 near the village of Khliehriat, India. After traversing treacherous mountain roads, the coal is delivered to neighboring Bangladesh and to Assam from where it is distributed all over India, to be used primarily for power generation and as a source of fuel in cement plants. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #On quibble with this feature at The Atlantic: the headline says, "Global Coal Usage Reaches 44 Year High," followed by this:
Earlier this week, BP issued its annual "Statistical Review of World Energy" report. According to the report, coal was the fastest-growing fossil fuel worldwide last year, and "coal's share of global primary energy consumption reached 30.1 percent, the highest since 1970". Despite a decrease in coal usage by North America and Europe over the past several years (due in large part to cheaper natural gas), global coal consumption has risen to new highs, driven by the growing and power-hungry markets of China and India.That is as a percentage of primary energy consumption, not as total tonnage. World coal consumption has more than doubled from 1980 (4.122 billion short tons) to 2012 (8.449 billion short tons). That isn't a 44 year high, it is an all-time high in the history of the world. If you are concerned about a potential climactic calamity due to fossil fuel use, I think that is baked into our cake. I don't think we're undoing all that damage.