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« Anti-flag-burning amendment garbage again | Main | The Iraq War is Over, and Freedom Won »

June 22, 2005



55% of our power comes from coal-fired plants?! I was shocked to read this. But, on the other hand, it would explain the renewed activity I have been seeing in coal mining in central Pennsylvania.

They are going back to areas that have been mined decades ago. I guess with the price of energy at new highs, it may now be cost effective to go after those harder to get deposits.

jj mollo

If you're going to burn oil, it's better to burn coal. It creates about the same amount of CO2, but coal uses American resources. Coal also produces a certain amount of sulphur pollution which increases the reflectiveness of the atmosphere and helps keep the temperature down.

Oil is dangerously convenient. We have grown drunk on it and have become blind in our stupor. Nukes are the sensible way to go.


I agree that we need to embrace nuclear power.
The super-bonus that comes with switching to
nuclear is the fact that it will be creating
American jobs. We could use a nice growth
industry right now.

jj mollo

If you want to encourage alternative power sources, the best thing to do is to encourage policies that force the price of oil upward. One way would be to tax it. Another would be to buy large quantities. If we do that and store it in the strategic oil reserve we will protect ourselves from cutoffs at least, and we will be pushing China to use their power more efficiently as well.

Red Star

As long as the burning of coal as the main source of electricity is cheap, no matter what the issue may be at had, it will remain the choice of fuel for producing electricity. Only when this source is dangerously close to depletion, thus raising the cost as supply is reduced, then they'll be a search for an alternative. And when this happens, the next viable source will again be based on it's relative cost effectiveness (compared to the other resources) - whether it be nuclear, oil, or gas.

jj mollo

There is an incredible amount of coal available on this planet, enough to theoretically last 300 years, a lot of it in the US. We in the US use about 75 million barrels of oil a day. We use the equivalent of 50 million barrels of oil each from coal and natural gas. We use more oil than coal because coal is inconvenient and polluting, but we still use a lot of coal. This is not a good thing, but it is better than using oil.

At certain price points it becomes economic to convert some portion of coal to oil product equivalents. This will not happen, of course, until producers are confident that the price will hold. The infrastructure is therefore not currently available to protect our economy from the kinds of price shocks that the Arabs can threaten us with.

So protecting us from oil dependency is just a matter of keeping the price high for a long time. Protecting us from CO2 poisoning requires that we also bring the price of nuclear power down to competitive levels with coal. The French have been able to do this with today's technology. We should be able to do the same with streamlined licensing approaches and modern Pebble Bed Reactor designs. If we can't then we should subsidize nuclear power.

We should control our population, but we won't, so we need to control our use of fossil fuels, but we won't, so we must manipulate the economy to accomplish CO2 reductions, but we won't, so we have no choice but to pursue alternative power sources, which we will. Since we can only use the last option, we have to give it our best shot. Power from nuclear fission is the only remaining feasible method for significantly slowing down the progress of global warming. I personally don't think it's enough, but I hope for the best.

jj mollo

Correction: Figures above are for the world, not the US.

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