Proponents for more sustainable sources of fuel gained some valuable news recently, as researchers at the California Institute of Technology and the University of Washington concluded the world’s supply of coal has been vastly overestimated. With traditional fossil fuels running out before our eyes, the need for alternative, renewable fuels becomes more important every day.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had placed the level of coal reserves at about 3,400 billion tons, however the recent study shows that there are really only about 650 billion tons. The reason for this discrepancy is what governments claim as their maximum extractable coal. Instead of taking their word for it, the study looked at actual coal production patterns in the world’s five most prosperous coal regions and found that minimal coal reserves have been overestimated by more than four times what is actually mineable.
With the levels of coal where they actually are the Post Carbon Institute sees that we will be at peak coal between 2025 and 2035. This lack of coal will almost definitely lead to a decline in the economy, as processes that have been done for generations with coal will no longer be able to function.
Switching off of coal to alternative products is necessary to combat the general warming of the Earth, but unless we get serious about creating new and sustainable energy, we’re going to be in some big trouble.