Rick Whitbeck: Why everyone should want a lump of coal in their Christmas stocking

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By RICK WHITBECK | POWER THE FUTURE

When many of us were young, the worst possible Christmas threat was a lump of coal in your stocking.  Santa only brought it to the naughty kids, rather than nice.  As adults, we know better.  The world is better because of man’s historic use of coal.  Furthermore, if this Christmas season, all the world received coal as a present, we’d be better off as a society moving forward.

Right now, there are climate activists reading this and going apoplectic. Their gnashing of teeth while shrieking, “Coal use is ruining the Earth, the leading cause of the ‘climate crisis’!” is both annoying and deafening.

Let me help them with some facts:  Without coal, societies across the globe would perish. Coal continues to have a transformative impact on mankind, where, since prehistoric days, we’ve used coal for heat.  In the 1700s, the English began to use it commercially, and in the 1880s, it became a primary power source for generating electricity. Today, over 20% of the world uses coal to power their lives.

Globally, coal use is increasing, with the International Energy Agency’s latest report forecasting 2023 global coal demand to be the highest ever, driven by India’s 8% year-over-year increase and China’s 5% growth.  The IEA noted that coal-fired generation will rise by about 158 terawatt-hours, or 1.5%, this year.

China knows coal is a key to its rise as a global manufacturing behemoth, as steel is forged using coal, solar panels are fused using coal and even concrete requires coal in its production. China’s 1.8 terawatts of coal-fired generation is not only five times the U.S.’s capacity, but they plan to open two new coal plants a week through 2023 and 2024.  No wonder China’s economic rise is proceeding so quickly. 

While coal is a keystone power source worldwide, here in the U.S., it is a victim of an ongoing war, funded by climate ideologues who care more about the climate than the tens of thousands of families working in coal extraction and energy production. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has given over $1.1 billion of his personal wealth to the Sierra Club to establish “Beyond Coal” and “Beyond Carbon” initiatives, designed to shut down every coal-fired power plant in the country by 2030.

Energy expert Robert Bryce recently chided Bloomberg’s and the United Nations’ efforts to eliminate coal as an energy source as futile in the global scheme of things, noting “the ongoing increase in coal use provides a strong counter-narrative to claims that policymakers made significant progress [at COP28] in Dubai.”

Simply put, ideologues be damned, coal isn’t going away. Nothing can replace its manufacturing necessities, nor its plentiful reserves across the globe.  If you truly believe in helping humanity be all it can be, include coal on your gift-giving list this and every future Christmas. Let’s have Santa get with the times and feel good about filling everyone’s stockings with coal.

Rick Whitbeck is the Alaska State Director for Power The Future, a national nonprofit organization that advocates for American energy jobs. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on X (formerly Twitter) @PTFAlaska.

30 COMMENTS

  1. Why readers of this site resist vaccinations that actually help them, and continue to promote coal, which hurts both them and the planet, is a profound mystery.

    We live in upside-down times, but all the same, Merry Christmas to everyone.

    • Coal definitely produces smoke, particulates, and gases. But coal is merely compressed bio-mass (wood, grass, etc) aged for millions of years. And the burning of coal, in addition to allowing the production of counltess things that have helped make life better for hundreds of millions of people, has allowed us to find better ways to mitigate the effects of buring fossil fuels to our environmnet. Clean coal plants, burning Healy Coal, can produce energy for less than $.10/KWh and do so much cleaner even than wind power (which requires spinning reservers or baseload). Coal is not the boogyman. Coal and fossil fuels have increased the quality of life of all humanity far and above what would have been possible had we not used them. If you think burning coal to create electricity is bad for your health, try living in a Yurt and buring animal dung for heat and cooking.

      • You’re ignoring the harmful particulate matter and other byproducts created from the combustion of coal—like mercury. Technology has come a long way to help reduce those byproducts but coal is still just nasty to burn. At least advocate for natural gas—what’s next, romantically harping back to the days of whale oil lamps?

        • and you are ignoring the fact that every good thing we have in our lives has come from fossil fuels – including our current lifespan. Mercury is inherently in our bodies – more mercury than is put out by the smoke from a coal fired power plant that has clean technology. Golden Valley power plants are 15 miles from a national park with the cleanest air in the country. How does that happen? You can hardly see any smoke at all from Healy power plants, ever. I suggest an open minded read of Epstein’s book “The moral case for fossil fuels.” Shutting down fossil fuels would simply not work in Alaska; or really anywhere in the world except fairly close to the equator.

          • Amen to that!! I’m for coal and energy that heats my home and keeps our lives moving in a good direction with the “coal” from Usibelli to the plants and homes.

          • Km
            Im completely shocked how clean the healy coal plant is .
            You are so right. I recently spent a summer living within 1,000 yards and never smelled it . The ground was clean. The snow is clean . The air was breathable and clean. It was truly impressive.
            Even right directly within the 50 yard circle of the plant was clean .
            Truly amazing. Its worth a tour in and of itself.
            2,000 yards away is an airport – pristine look – that was flying tourists onto local glaciers Denali sightseeing.

    • So what you are really asking is: Why do readers here question the ideologies that you have been programmed to not question? Well, maybe it’s because they can think for themselves.

    • Hans
      I am one of those no government vax for me.
      They lied to us and made millions.
      You go ahead and take the vax for me.

    • If the air becomes too dirty for you there are plenty of leftover used covid masks lying around. That should keep you alive and “clean”

    • Not All vaccines are good for everyone. Your statement is ignorant. Covid vaccine is a perfect example and you can’t argue with the numbers of injuries or death. Actually I guess you can argue but you’re just adding to the lie.

    • The root of the vast majority of society’s problems is over population. We live in a chaotic society because many lack education and many try to use religion as an excuse for their opinions.

  2. It is foolishness for climate change folks to believe we can stop using coal, natural gas and petroleum quickly. Wind power has failed epically. Electric vehicles are a possibility but we have to have an abundant supply of electricity to charge/power these vehicles. In Texas and California they have nightly updates on how tenuous the electric power grid is NOW! How can they introduce millions of electric cars and trucks to the grid and expect to charge/power them? Have they deployed charging stations throughout the entire primary and secondary highways? I agree we need to move away from coal, natural gas, and petroleum but it needs to be over a longer period of time. Good luck getting China or India on board with the changeover they seem to be charging ahead with cars, trucks, and factories which by the way run on coal, natural gas and petroleum. A viable solution could be nuclear plants generating electricity. The military has proven you can use nuclear energy to power some of their ships.

    • California needs electric so bad they are installing solar on my mom’s house for free. They can use what electric they need and the power company takes the rest.

    • Funny thing about California, in the late 70’s early 80’s when their brilliant government banned coal powered power plants in California, they simply went east to build them. New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, and Wyoming were all recipients of the anti-coal California initiatives. This served their purpose by using the NIMBY thought process. Now, 40 years later, they are exchanging coal for natural gas at these same sites. Look up Delta Utah and the old IPP plant owned by IPA only to include municipalities in the state of Utah due to state law, but operated by LAWPD, complete with a direct DC power line straight into the heart of LA. They justify this by the claim that this will eventually be run on Hydrogen, a completely unproven and technologically challenging process especially at scale. These hypocrites literally think they are leading the anti “fossil fuel” movement, all done while quietly burning “fossil fuels” in other states to fuel their EV’s etc. the same as it has been done for over 40 years. – Cheers

  3. From a C3 Newsmag report on COP28(Dubai 2023).

    “The reality is that climate policies cannot trap people in poverty, prevent upward mobility, and deprive people of the basic energy needs that dramatically improve livelihoods. Of course, the goals of increasing energy access and reducing climate risks do not need to be mutually exclusive, but in some cases, they may be.

    The tradeoff of rising emissions from the use of conventional sources is greater energy access and better living conditions. Providing families with electric or propane cookstoves may increase greenhouse gas emissions but significantly reduce indoor air pollution that prematurely kills millions when they use dung and crop residues. Building power systems to eliminate the use of cookstoves altogether would be transformational for communities in developing countries, but that would likely mean the use of more coal or natural gas.”

    Ceasing the production of ALL fossil fuels, the way the Alaska Democrats want to do, would put us back in the dark ages. The only possible renewable, currently available, that can scale to replace fossil fuels is Hydo. The eco-warriors shut down Susitna-Watana years ago. Now the Anchorage Assembly and liberal democrats waant to shutter Eklutna, removing 41MW power from the grid. Better wake up Alaska. Elections, even for boards such as Chugach, MEA, Golden Valley – and most especially the Anchorage Assembly – have consequences.

    I notice that the UAA pamphlets to new students require “critical thinking skills” for Honors Scholars but no such requirement for Climate Scholars. Apparently all you need to do to be a Climate Scholar is be able to parrot the sound bytes of MSM and the climate change acolytes.

  4. I’ll never forget the day a train car full of dignitaries rolled in to Healy to mark the preliminary completion of the new power plant. Upon seeing the barely-visible heat signature emanating from the stack of the working plant, a fellow traveler remarked “Wow! It really is clean!” I had the perverse pleasure of pointing out that she was observing the highly scrubbed effluent of the old plant, as the new plant had not yet been started. No combustion is perfectly harmless to someone or something. But cold and dark aren’t benign, either. Life is risky, the earth is trying to kill you 24/7; use science to make rational choices among suboptimal realities rather than destroying the discipline for political ends, please.

  5. I recall reading that while Obama was President, the Russians were funding environmental groups to help shut down the Keystone pipeline and other fossil fuel activities in the US. I’m sure that helped Russia in many ways.

    • Now the Communist Totalitarian Chinese are also funding ‘green’ groups.

      Google “CCP-tied group is quietly fueling US-based climate initiatives”.

  6. On the local level, I intend to use any means available to stay warm. Obviously, we don’t have the infrastructure to rely on any form of electricity as of yet, regardless of the source. You don’t heat your house on good intentions or pipe dreams. Maybe in fifty years but we live in today. Our food supply poses more hazards than the coal or gas industry. Loaded with harmful chemicals. At present rate, we will all too soon forget all of this in favor of basic survival.

    • 100%, meanwhile, we play with our economy as if it’s some sort of toy that could be easily disposed of and rebuilt. In Alaska, we don’t have oranges, bananas, and coffee for exports; we have copper, graphite, gold, gas, coal, oil – that’s what feeds our economy and heats our homes. This is how we get food to the stores to feed our families, how we plow our streets, and snow-blow our properties. People just need to wake up – carbon credits won’t feed your family’s bellies, and they will never be full from virtue signaling. It’s certainly not solar panels and windmills that power the espresso machines found on every corner. WAKE UP ALASKA! If there’s ever going to be an energy transition, it needs to be done organically when the tech is ready. It must make economic sense it cannot be forced at the hand of a legislator who doesn’t know anything about economic development. Alaska’s economy is weaker than a COVID victim at the hands of the current legislators. It’s GDP that protects sovereignty; government is a tool created by man to help man not work against it in an effort to grow outside the means of its control.

    • I agree. In the meanwhile, there is a governor, and some leaders and legislators in our state that need to answer for selling us out to the globalists and allowing us to go down the path of potentially freezing to death, loosing our ability to travel and starve to death. Oh heck, we might as well throw the Lt. Gov in there for not doing her job and solidly seating us in this pickle of a voting system.

  7. Like the slogan I saw at the fair: “If it can’t be grown, it must me mined” (just ask any kid that plays Minecraft)

  8. “………Simply put, ideologues be damned, coal isn’t going away.”
    Fact. Let the ideologues grind their teeth. It is music to my ears.

  9. The nation with the dirtiest air everyday is…? China. Not Fairbanks. No comparison as compared and measured by satellites

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