In the tradition of Rachel Carson and Eric Schlosser, the veteran journalist Jeff Goodell examines the danger behind President George W. Bush's recent assertion that coal is America's "economic destiny."
Despite a devastating, century-long legacy that has claimed millions of lives and ravaged the environment, coal has become hot again -- and will likely get hotter. In this penetrating analysis, Goodell debunks the faulty assumptions underlying coal's revival and shatters the myth of cheap coal energy. In a compelling blend of hard-hitting investigative reporting, history, and industry assessment, Goodell illuminates the stark economic imperatives America faces and the collusion of business and politics -- what is meant by "big coal" -- that have set us on the dangerous course toward reliance on this energy source.
Few of us realize that even today we burn a lump of coal every time we flip on a switch. Coal already supplies more than half the energy needed to power our iPods, laptops, lights -- anything we use that consumes electricity. Our desire to find a homegrown alternative to Mideast oil, the rising cost of oil and natural gas, and the fossil fuel-friendly mood in Washington will soon push our coal consumption through the roof. Because we have failed to develop alternative energy sources, coal has effectively become the default fuel for the twenty-first century.
Its easy to forget what a luxury this isuntil you visit a place like China. Despite its booming economy in recent years, the insulating walls of modern life have not yet been fully erected there. In restaurants, the entrées are often alive in a cage in the dining room. Herbs and acupuncture needles inspire more faith than pharmaceutical drugs. Toilets stink. In rural areas, running water is a surprise, hot water a thrill. When you flip the switch on the wall and the light goes on, you know exactly what it costsall you have to do is take a deep breath and feel the burn of coal smoke in your lungs.
To a westerner, nothing is more uncivilized than the sulfury smell of coal. You cant take a whiff without thinking of labor battles and underground mine explosions, of chugging smokestacks and black lung.
But coal is everywhere in twenty-first-century China. Its piled up on sidewalks, pressed into bricks and stacked ...
Did you know that?
Goodell presents a wealth of fascinating facts such as these in his well researched book, which does an excellent job of presenting the case without overloading the reader with scientific jargon or too much statistical information.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (883 words).
Facts & Stats according to Big Coal
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