Excerpt from Coal by Barbara Freese, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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A Human History

by Barbara Freese

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  • First Published:
    Jan 2003, 320 pages
    Feb 2004, 320 pages

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Although Minnesota's decision-makers flatly rejected the industry's notion that climate change would be limited to climate improvements, adopting instead the widely held consensus that climate change is a grave threat, we don't yet know whether the proceeding will have any effect on state energy policy. The effect of the case on me personally, however, was dramatic. I was left not only deeply concerned about the changing climate but thoroughly intrigued by the lump of carbon at the center of the storm, this often-overlooked fuel that reveals so much about us and the world we've built. The more I dug, the more I could see that a deep, rich vein of coal runs through human history and underlies many of the hardest decisions our world now faces. Following that vein in the intervening years has taken me far afield--from paleobotany to labor issues, from ancient history to modern geopolitics, and from the massive state-of-the-art power plant a few miles from my home to a primitive little coal mine in Inner Mongolia. This book is the result of that journey.

Excerpted from Coal: A Human History by Barbara Freese. Copyright 2002 by Barbara Freese. All rights reserved. Excerpt reproduced by permission of the publisher, Perseus Publishing.

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