The Ecologist

 
News web pic 2_5.jpg
More articles about
Related Articles

Peak coal? Governments may be over-estimating global coal reserves, says US engineer

Ecologist

23rd January, 2009

Governments may be over-estimating global coal reserves, says US engineer

Peak oil has been much in the headlines recently, but whilst the world’s supplies of coal are substantially greater they may not be as extensive as governments believe, according to David Rutledge, a professor of engineering at the California Institute of Technology.

Ironically, Rutledge says, our shift to mechanised as opposed to hand coal mining has meant that coal seams which might have been exploited using 20th century techniques are no longer accessible – and hence no longer economically viable – with 21st century machines.

He estimates economically recoverable coal reserves at around 400 billion tons worldwide, as compared with government estimates of between 850 and 998 billion tons.

This is hardly a cause for celebration, however: Pushker Kharecha, a researcher at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies warned that even 400 billion tons was enough coal to ‘push us past the threshold beyond which we would not want to go with the climate’.

This article first appeared in the Ecologist January 2009

 

Previous Articles...

Work for The Ecologist as a Contributing Editor

ECOLOGIST COOKIES

Using this website means you agree to us using simple cookies.

More information here...

 

FOLLOW
THE ECOLOGIST

 

Help us keep the Ecologist platform going

Since 2012, the Ecologist has been owned and published by a small UK-based charity called the Resurgence Trust. We work hard to support the kind of independent journalism and comment that we know Ecologist readers enjoy but we need your help to keep going. We do all this on a very small budget with a very small editorial team and so joining the Trust or making a donation will show us you value our work and support the platform which is currently offered as a free service.

Join The Resurgence TrustDonate to support the Resurgence Trust