Let Coal Go the Way of the Horse and Buggy

My Recent Posts

“President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that will roll back many of former President Barack Obama’s efforts to curb global warming. The order is aimed at helping spur American energy jobs. The president signed the order at the headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency. Trump says this is “the start of a new era” in energy production. The order will mandate a review of the Clean Power Plan, which restricts greenhouse gas emissions at coal-fired power plants. It will also lift a 14-month-old moratorium on new coal leases on federal lands. Trump has called global warming a “hoax,” and has repeatedly criticized Obama’s efforts as an attack on American workers and the struggling U.S. coal industry.”

– ABC News


Don’t get me wrong, I’m no tree-hugging uber-environmentalist. I have a gasoline powered car and lawnmower. I use natural gas to heat my water. But I am concerned about the environment, the air I breathe, the water I drink, the climate changes that mankind exacerbates, the lands held in public trust.


Every scientist worthy to be called one warns about how fossil fuels, their emissions and their refuse, contribute to the poisoning of the environment. The worst offenders are the petroleum products, gas and oil. But let’s not forget coal. It is arguably the dirtiest form of energy, and thus a major health hazard, not to mention the devastation strip-mining leaves on the environment. 


So why should anyone want to decrease or abolish regulations designed to minimize and eventually replace coal as an energy source? There are cleaner energy sources. Should the government have stepped in to bolster and protect wagon-makers and wheelwrights when gasoline powered automobiles threatened to be the new mode of transportation?


Maybe they should have. By comparison to autos, wagons don’t pollute (if you overlook the occasional droppings from the animals pulling them.) 


Doesn’t solar and wind energy hold the promise of a cleaner environment? Maybe that’s too progressive – as in, progress – for the conservative fat-cats who are notoriously against anything new unless they can make even more money from it. Which they can’t from the sun and wind; there’s no scarcity of it and capitalism is based on supply and demand, more demand with a diminishing supply equates to higher prices, greater profit.


Opening federal lands to coal mining? Those lands belong to you and me, and our descendants – in trust – to preserve what natural wilderness remains. But, to the money-grubbers, where’s the profit in idle land? No one asked me if it’s okay to ravage and rape those preserves, dispoiling the landscape, leaving gaping holes in the ground and pillars of slag. Did they ask you?

Helping American workers? There are 83,000 coal miners. There are 143,000 solar workers. It’s a wagon and automobile thing. If we want to help American coal miners, let’s rather pay to retrain them. But, of course, it’s not about coal miners, it’s about coal mine owners – mustn’t  let them go out of business, like wagon makers. And the owners of plants that burn coal – mustn’t encourage them to convert to another, cleaner, more efficient energy source, that might hurt their profits, CEO bonus, shareholder’s dividend checks, or campaign donations to politicians.

Global warming a hoax? Let me repeat myself, “Every scientist worthy to be called one…” categorically states that climate warming is not what’s happening, it’s climate change that’s the issue, and carbon (coal and natural gas) burning is a significant contributor to it.

The only “hoax” is the one Trump is trying to foist off on you and me. As if coal is the one and only guaranteed elixir to cure all our energy ailments. Believe that, and and you’ll buy anything he says.

I was no fan of Obama, but, on at least this issue, his administration was right to mitigate carbon and petroleum power with wind and solar.

And, as a disclaimer, I have no financial interest in either solar or wind generated power. I don’t have solar panels on my roof and I don’t drive an electric car. The only benefit I derive from the wind is the melodic sounds from windchimes on my patio. I support them because they can better our health and do not harm the environment.

– Bill


Joe Chiang Added Apr 7, 2017 - 4:01pm
You have some conclusions wrong.
I live in an oil and coal state.  Because of Obama, our state economy tanked and we are operating on extreme shortages, plus the liberals wanting to spend, spend, spend.  Yes, our liberals in ND have an R behind their name, but they are still Obama type liberals.
I plan to build and test what I call "Stacked Blades" this summer.  The model demonstrated a 400% improvement in power production with wind.  I will test my first prototype in a river making hydroelectric power.  The test will demonstrate any size generator can be powered in rivers and streams without a dam.
I believe there are wind and vehicle applications, but money to build prototypes is the issue.
Wind and solar are not reasonable substitutes for coal, oil, and nuclear.  These are reliable 24/7 where wind and solar are not.  However, my wind application utilizes hydrogen from sewers and septic systems to power the windmill when the wind is not adequate making it reliable 24/7.  My biggest obstacle is the government.  The government passes out money, wastes money, on what some bureaucrat thinks may be a good bet to work, like Solindra.  But because their limited brains cannot understand what I have, they will not provide required funding.
Because government throws so much weight around in energy, the private sector is afraid the government may make it impossible to utilize my power systems because they want to "protect" existing power sources.
Mike Haluska Added Apr 7, 2017 - 4:18pm
William - in order to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure we will need lots of steel.  In order to make steel you need coal.  And it simply isn't true that your claim:
"Every scientist worthy to be called one warns about how fossil fuels, their emissions and their refuse, contribute to the poisoning of the environment."
is anywhere near correct.  There are many Nobel Prize winning physicists who are not on board with the "Climate Change" gang - for good reason!  It's lousy science based on crappy data collection and analysis.  Freeman Dyson is one, so is Ivar Giaever:
Louis E Weeks Added Apr 7, 2017 - 10:57pm
Did the Government pass mandates to outlaw the horse and buggy?  Or did we let consumers and the natural progression of capitalism and public desire figure out who would win?
As Mike pointed out, lost of very respected scientists do not buy onto the who humans cause all global climate change theories and let's remember that the real issue is developing countries, not America.
But stop and consider this, prior to their nuclear power issues Japan was a world leader in alternative energy research.  When they had their nuclear issues they were stuck with a problem of needing a lot of energy and with all that modern science at their finger tips, they had to pick a replacement for their energy needs no longer provided by nuclear power plants.
So what did they choose William?  They decided to build a massive number of coal powered plants.  At the end of the day coal is way cheaper to produce large amounts of power than any other source and modern plants can burn that coal very efficiently.
William the real problem you need to address is population control if you want to change carbon usage.  Even if you imposed massive changes in America, developing countries will increase their carbon footprints faster than we reduce our own.  But even at home massive conservation does not address population growth, we can reduce what each person uses but as we get more people we still end up with a net positive.
Coal should not be artificially taken out of the equation by the Government.  Meddling always produces unintended consequences.  
Mike Haluska Added Apr 10, 2017 - 2:58pm
Louis -
EVEN IF it was shown that CO2 had a significant impact on global temperature, less than 2% of the CO2 in the atmosphere is attributable to human activity!!! 
EVEN IF we could "wave a magic wand" and make human CO2 disappear, the atmospheric CO2 concentration would only drop from 400 ppm to 392 ppm!!!  If 400 ppm didn't "wreck the planet", why in the hell would 392 ppm??? 
Bill H. Added Apr 10, 2017 - 10:47pm
Big Oil will do all that they can to stifle gains in alternative energy technology. Sadly we will fall behind and other countries who are not under the control of Big Oil will profit and we will become their customer when it is to late for us.
We have seen many examples of this before, but for some stupid reason we choose to loose.
How naïve of us to just sit back and allow Big Oil to convince us that we should keep burning oil so that they can profit.
As you can see, many out here on WB have blindly "drank the Kool Aid" and continue to preach the gospel of the Big Oil Gooey Boys.
Joe Chiang Added Apr 11, 2017 - 2:43pm
Amen Bill
William Hill Added Apr 19, 2017 - 12:05pm
I would like to say "thank you" to all who have commented on my article. To respond to all comments to date:
Joe - Not sure what wrong conclusions you're referring to, the only one I attempted was that coal is a dirty form of energy that contributes to pollution and exacerbates climatic conditions, which your further writing seems in agreement with, as you've outlined your work in developing clean, renewable wind and water generated power to replace dirtier fossil fuels, for which I highly commend you! I'm sorry how some in your state, ND, have been impacted through the growth of alternative fuels, just as I'm sure many communities that relied on wagon production were negatively impacted with the advent of the automobile. But they, in time, made the transition just as will the good folk in ND. Your state currently produces 26.6% of your power needs through the renewable sources of wind, solar and hydroelectric. Perhaps ND will soon match my state's (CA) 40.3% (and growing yearly).
Mike - I agree that we need steel, and steel requires coal. But there are cheaper, more efficient, more healthier ways of processing it than is in general use now. Iron can be dissolved from ore through electrolysis that uses 30% less energy, reduces carbon emissions by 10%, and yields oxygen as a by-product. Using natural gas - still a relative pollutant - is also a better means.
And your issue of population growth/control? How do you propose to do that? That sounds rather draconian, not to mention impossible. The real issue, the crux of the matter, is to develop clean and renewable sources of energy to accomodate their needs, not to rely on dirty, finite sources such as coal and oil.
Bill H. - You've hit the nail squarely on the head, to which I'll echo Joe's comment to yours, "Amen".
William Hill Added Apr 19, 2017 - 12:33pm
Sorry, Louis, I haven't forgotten your comment, just hit the "submit" button too quickly. 
The government didn't need to "outlaw" the horse and buggy. It wasn't hurting anyone. The government did, however, use private capitalism with government funding assistance and laws to encourage the building of the railroads, first to accomodate the needs of commerce and, then, the public's desire for a more speedy means of transit. Just as now, the government - if not the federal, at least in most states - is involved in the demand and need for more and better energy sources to meet the needs of commerce and the public through both private capital and government assistance and laws to effect change.
Dino Manalis Added Apr 19, 2017 - 5:41pm
clean coal can be used effectively to protect the environment; save/create jobs; and keep energy costs down!
Gregory S. McNeill Added Apr 19, 2017 - 5:56pm
You are correct Bill; Trump's reversals are a step in the WRONG direction. I am concerned about the air I breathe and the water. This nation of ours is going backwards and in the end will have serious consequences to our nation. The Coal Industry is DEAD and NOT COMING BACK! We as a nation have to begin being open to new ideas, not retreat to outdated ideas that no longer work.
Peter Corey Added Apr 19, 2017 - 8:28pm
>The government didn't need to "outlaw" the horse and buggy. It wasn't hurting anyone.
Yes, they WERE hurting someone. In fact, horse-and-buggy transportation hurt everyone, i.e., society as a whole. See:


When Horses Posed a Public Health Hazard

Think the amount of dog waste on city streets is getting out of control? Certainly, the State Legislature does, passing a new “pooper scooper” law that will more than double the maximum fine, to $250 from $100, for failing to pick up after your dog.
But the dog waste problem is nothing compared with the horse manure problem of the 19th century.
Back then, 100,000 to 200,000 horses lived in the city. A typical horse produced from 15 to 30 pounds of manure (with the average output about 22 pounds) and about a quart of urine a day, usually distributed along the course of its route or deposited in the stable, as “The Centrality of the Horse to the Nineteenth-Century American City,” an article by Joel Tarr and Clay McShane, explains.
In 1818, in an attempt to control the manure nuisance, the New York City Council required that those who gathered and hauled manure, so-called “dirt carting,” to be licensed.
This 1880 New York Times article [pdf] on the challenges facing the Sanitation Department singles out a manure pile on East 92nd Street which was supposed to be cleared once a year before May 1, but had been left in place.
The manure piles attracted huge numbers of flies, and one journalist writing in Appleton Magazine in 1908, charged that each year 20,000 New Yorkers died from “maladies that fly in the dust, created mainly by horse manure.”
The horses posed another sanitation problem when they dropped dead — sometimes from overwork, sometimes from disease (like horse distemper and other maladies that caused horses to swell overnight). In 1880, New York City removed 15,000 dead horses from its streets. But sometimes a big carcass would simply be left to rot until it had disintegrated enough for someone to pick up the pieces.
Of course, horses weren’t the only animals causing sanitation headaches. Animals were a standard part of life in 19th century New York. Pigs, sheep and cattle were also part of everyday city life. Pigs regularly roamed through the city in herds.
What eventually helped the city with the problem?
The arrival of the automobile — which was readily accepted, in part, because it did not pose sanitation problems."
Peter Corey Added Apr 19, 2017 - 8:29pm
Not mentioned by this NY Times article on horses is the fact that maintenance for horses was very labor-and-resource intensive. The automobile is not only more efficient than the horse-and-buggy; in the long run, it's actually environmentally friendlier.

If coal power goes the way of the horse and buggy, it should be because it gets replaced by better technology that uses fewer economic inputs (i.e., resources), rather than by being regulated out of existence by government.
Jeff Michka Added Apr 19, 2017 - 8:43pm
Dino writes: clean coal can be used effectively to protect the environment; save/create jobs; and keep energy costs down!  - Bet you'll be the first on your block to buy a coal-powered Tesla. Forward, into the 19th C.!!!!
Bill H. Added Apr 19, 2017 - 10:39pm
The words Clean and Coal go together like Cold and Fire.
If Trump thinks he is going to create more jobs by upping coal use, he is crazy. Most remaining coal mines use automation for the entire process. If other mines are allowed to open and expand, they too will do it with automation.
And the other salt in the wound is that most (if not all) of the equipment that will be used to operate and automate the new mines will come from China
Joe Chiang Added Apr 20, 2017 - 7:46am
Coal in ND has a lot of very expensive filters so it is not polluting.  It may even be cleaner than outside air.  We strip mine here.  The area to be mined is carefully studied and when the mining is done, the topography is placed back the way it had been as exactly as possible.  This includes plants, wildlife, streams and ponds.  When they are done, most people cannot tell it was a mining site.
However, renewable energy is not as readily available as it should be.  Government has made decisions on which and what renewable energy THEY think will be the best and invest public funds into those methods, Solindra come to mind.  But, if funds went to good ideas that are out of the box thinking, then we would have development of inexpensive renewable energies.  But government is stifling renewable energy growth, partly to protect the jobs created by oil and coal.  Then they tax the heck out of them.  This is for the financial benefit of the government and has nothing to do with good stewardship of the environment. 
Bill Kamps Added Apr 20, 2017 - 9:22am
Jeff, not to be too snarky, but what do you think powers a Tesla, given that 30% of electricity is produced by coal.
Coal is going to continue to decline in % of electricity produced. 
Unfortunately the government is pretty  clumsy and capricious in how it "encourages" progress, and this clumsiness often leads to pain for localities that the government affects.  Rules change with the politics, and this makes the situation worse.
William Hill Added Apr 20, 2017 - 11:15am
I'm a great fan of irony and can't help but include this in the ongoing discussion:
CNN.com, April 6: “The Kentucky Coal Mining Museum in Benham, owned by Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, is switching to solar power to save money. … Communications director Brandon Robinson told CNN affiliate WYMT that the project ‘will help save at least eight to ten thousand dollars off the energy costs on this building alone.’”
Joe Chiang Added Apr 20, 2017 - 11:20am
LOL  Oil and coal are already obsolete, they just don't know it yet.
Bill H. Added Apr 20, 2017 - 11:38am
The efficiency of the latest solar panels, batteries, and DC/AC inverters has improved considerably. Just the efficiency of panels has increased from 17% to well over 30% over the last 10 years. The latest batteries from Elon Musk are 90% efficient and take up less than half of the space of what was available just a year ago. AC/DC inverters are now nearing 99% weighted efficiency compared to the 87% of just 10 years ago.
Guess who doesn't want you to know these facts? 
Jeff Michka Added Apr 20, 2017 - 11:56am
but what do you think powers a Tesla, given that 30% of electricity is produced by coal.- Very little.  Until we get rid of  coal, Teslas, hybrids, are pretty much "fooling ourselves." There is no shortage of rightist club prop/science denial/conspiracy theory over climate change and how we could better utilize renewable resources.  Time to just do it.
Joe Chiang Added Apr 20, 2017 - 1:34pm
The issue is still the cost per kw.  My stacked blades will be very inexpensive and almost nothing to operate (just maintenance costs).  If it works, then recharging an electric car will cost almost nothing.  If we can get the weight of a 20 kw generator a lot lighter, that might mean increasing the range per charge of electric vehicles 200% or more.  This is within the foreseeable future if we can get the government out of the way.
Bill H. Added Apr 20, 2017 - 1:41pm
It's not really a matter of getting the government out of the way, it's a matter of getting Big Oil and other ancient suppliers of carbon-based energy out of the way. These lobbies are what control the country, and even more so now with energy executives being appointed to cabinet posts.
Joe Chiang Added Apr 20, 2017 - 1:53pm
Good point, Bill.  It is the big oil controlling government that is actually the blockage.
Mike Haluska Added Apr 20, 2017 - 3:20pm
William Hill - your assertion that:
"Iron can be dissolved from ore through electrolysis that uses 30% less energy, reduces carbon emissions by 10%, and yields oxygen as a by-product."
represents a process that:
1) Yields IRON which is NOT steel
2) Is not a process that can produce the millions of tons of steel required
3) The energy cost to produce the iron is greater than the material sells for
Mike Haluska Added Apr 20, 2017 - 3:31pm
Bill H -
Mortgage your home, cash in your savings, cash in your retirement fund, sell off as many assets as you can and GO INVEST IT ALL IN THE "SURE FIRE TECHNOLOGY"!  I mean, with all of the "efficiencies" you state it's as certain as Hillary beating Trump! 
Invest a big portion in Elon Musk as well - after all its not like his company is heavily subsidized like windmills, solar panels . . . oops!  They're all heavily subsidized by the government!!!  When you think about it, I am investing more of my money through government confiscation of my wages to pay for "renewable energy" than you are!
William Hill Added Apr 20, 2017 - 5:28pm
Mike, you're absolutely correct, iron is not steel. I misspoke, I meant coal. Ectrolysis is a viable, efficient, inexpensive and clean method of extracting coal from ore. It doesn't make steel production a whole lot less polluting, as coal burning is still involved. That's why I added that natural gas is a better energy source than coal. But ectrolysis is cheaper, as I said, than current coal extraction methods, and that alone should be sufficient inducement for mining companies to convert over to. Obviously, that would require capital outlay to convert, which would impact short-term profits (and stockholder's monthly dividend checks, or the CEO's annual bonus check, in the interim), so I don't imagine it'll catch on until until there isn't a reason not to. The problem we have is the mind-set of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Yes, coal-fired steel production works. But it is broken. Broken in that there are cheaper and less polluting ways to make it. As I alluded in my original post, would you rather we still rode in a horse and buggy, or an automobile? When something better comes along, it's better to accept the inevitable, be flexable, and go with progress. Energy-wise, mankind has come far from the discovery of fire, and there's a lot farther to go.
Peter Corey Added Apr 20, 2017 - 6:17pm
>Big Oil will do all that they can to stifle gains in alternative energy technology
Big Oil actively supports "alternative energy" because its profits would be guaranteed by large, continuous taxpayer subsidies, rather than having to be earned by means of competition on a free market.
Big, established, incumbent businesses historically LOVE government regulation because it helps prevent innovative upstarts from competing with them. Alternative energy (windmills, solar) are all about regulation and subsidies, since they're so inefficient, they could never survive in a free, competitive market.
For some background on this, read "The Triumph of Conservatism" by "New Left" journalist, Gabriel Kolko. 
Read online:
The Triumph of Conservatism
by Gabriel Kolko
Excerpts from an online review:


"According to Kolko, major American businesses not only did not oppose many of the regulatory acts from 1900 through 1916 but actively sought and supported many reforms and regulations . . .
. . . Wilsonian policies marked the triumph of political capitalism, the synthesis of policies and economies.(279) Businessmen were the major initiators of federal intervention in the economy."
* * *
[The current term for "political capitalism" is "crony capitalism".]
William Hill Added Apr 20, 2017 - 6:21pm
From sciencealert.com:
"Solar Power Is Now the Cheapest Form of Energy in Almost 60 Countries
We just hit a major turning point.
It's official: solar became the cheapest source of new energy in lower-income countries this year, giving both companies and governments alike another reason to ditch coal and gas for renewables.
Data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) show that the average price of solar energy in almost 60 countries dropped to US$1.65 million per megawatt during 2016, just below wind at US$1.66 million per megawatt. That's based on average prices across 58 emerging markets, including China, India, and Brazil, and it means renewable energy will be an increasingly attractive way to go for companies investing in new power plants in the future.
"Solar investment has gone from nothing ... five years ago to quite a lot," BNEF analyst Ethan Zindler told Tom Randall at Bloomberg. "A huge part of this story is China, which has been rapidly deploying solar."
Last year, China invested $103 billion in solar projects, more than the US ($44.1 billion), the UK ($22.2 billion), and Japan ($36.2 billion) put together.
Prices have also been dropping at auctions, where private firms bid against each other for big electricity contracts.
In January, a new record was hit in India with a contract to supply solar power for $64 per megawatt-hour(MWh), and by August, that had dropped all the way to $29.10 per megawatt-hour. For a bit of context, megawatt-hours (and kilowatt-hours) are units of energy, whereas megawatts (and kilowatts) are units of power – the rate at which energy is consumed.
If you're in a car, the energy value would be equivalent to the distance you'd travelled, and the power value would be the speed you were travelling at.
In terms of that sub-$30 MWh figure for solar, it's roughly half the price of paying for coal – and when you factor in the benefit of reducing global carbon emissions, it seems like a no-brainer.
"Renewables are robustly entering the era of undercutting [fossil fuels]," says BNEF chairman, Michael Liebreich.
Solar is booming for a number of reasons, including falling equipment costs, new business models like Tesla's home batteries, growing investment, and a rise in clean energy policies.
It's also worth noting that prices fluctuate across the world, and solar isn't the cheapest deal everywhere just yet – the cost depends on sunshine availability, plus the energy contracts that are already in place, and what government subsidies are on offer.
But it's still a landmark moment for new energy costs in developing nations, and goes hand-in-hand with renewable energy now having become the largest source of new power capacity in the world.
We've seen some amazing milestones set this year, which gives us plenty of optimism for the future: on one particular Sunday, Scotland generated all of its energy needs through wind power alone, while Portugal stayed powered up on renewables for four days straight.
Fossil fuels won't disappear overnight, but here's hoping that dropping prices, more efficient technology, and government commitments can change our energy landscape for the better."
If China can do, so can we!
Mike Haluska Added Apr 21, 2017 - 10:06am
William Hill - your statement:
"Yes, coal-fired steel production works."
isn't quite correct.  Coal is not used in the production of steel, a byproduct of the destructive distillation of coal called Coke (mostly carbon) is used as a reduction agent.  A combination of Coke Oven gas, Blast Furnace gas and Natural gas and oxygen is used in the primary production facility called a Blast Furnace.  The output of the Blast Furnace is called "pig iron" which has too much carbon in it to be called steel.  The molten pig iron is sent to a Basic Oxygen Furnace where pure Oxygen is blown in - converting the iron to steel through a Red/Ox process.
That's the method of changing iron ore mined from the Earth into steel.  There is also a process called the Electric Arc Furnace which melts scrap steel using a large carbon rod and lots of electricity to melt the scrap.  
William Hill Added Apr 21, 2017 - 11:03am
Mike, you're absolutely correct, I should have said something like "coal used for the processing of steel". But I hope you will allow that that technical error does not distract from what else I've written.
Which leads me to this:
I want to thank everyone who has joined in this discussion on fossil fuels. My orginal intent was to point out their negative impact to our health and the environment, the need to further develop and rely on alternate, renewable energies such as wind, solar and hydroelectric that are becoming more cost-efficient, in order to minimize or end our reliance on coal and oil, and - of course - stimulate discussion on the pros and cons of such efforts.
But I think the point has come to where its gone farther afield from my original intent and has devolved into minutia.
For that reason alone I am ending my participation in this post and moving on. But to all of you - please feel free to continue amongst yourselves.
Mike Haluska Added Apr 21, 2017 - 3:23pm
William - one final point for you to consider.  Just assuming that the burning of fossil fuels is harmful and has a negative impact doesn't make it so.  It also makes the logical error of only evaluating one side of an issue - it's "negative" side.  Let me give you an example of only looking at the "negative side":
Suppose someone did a study and discovered that over 1,000 people get killed every year as a result of collisions with Ambulances.  Let's assume you checked the national stats and it is true.  Now the person who did the study advocates that "in order to save 1,000 lives we should permanently ban the use of ambulances."  I mean - if there were no ambulances than those people would be alive today, right???
By only looking at the "negative side" of an issue, you often ignore an even more important "positive side" of the issue.  How many lives were saved by ambulances every year?  I trust you understand the reasoning behind this example.
In the case of fossil fuels - let's suppose you got your wish and we somehow ended all fossil fuel use today.  One of the "positive sides" of fossil fuels is the myriad of products essential to our modern way of life such as fertilizer, plastics, useful chemicals, drugs, etc.    
William Hill Added Apr 21, 2017 - 5:04pm
Okay, one final (and I mean it) response:
The crux of my article was energy production. Of course there are things in our lives that use or contain fossil elements - all the examples you cite. But they are incidental - the minutia I refered to. Maybe we'll need to live with some fossil sources. Maybe science will find a way around it. Who knows?
But as for energy production...there are better methods that are cleaner, cheaper, and more sustainable than coal or oil, and will continue to be more so if we don't yield to the tempation to keep going as we have in the past. Life is evolutionary, it keeps progressing from good to better (for the most part). If it didn't we'd all be having some other discussion around the fire in some cave.
One thing is for sure, if mankind is destined to ever go beyond Mars, wind and hydro won't do it, maybe solar, but you get my drift. But for sure, fossil energy ain't gonna do it.
But that's not germain to the discussion, either, is it?
Joe Chiang Added Apr 22, 2017 - 12:44pm
Very interesting.  I am an idea person.  I take concepts from very different and apparently unrelated sources and pull them together and make them work.  However, I am not an engineer with a deep understanding of solar.  I do know it requires space to collect solar energy and it cannot make power when the sun isn't shining, so it must "over-produce" to make power to store in batteries.  The batteries must be able to store all the energy that will be needed for the "dark" period, however long that might be.  The dark period could be 2-4 days in the event of a large storm passing between the solar panels and the sun.  I believe that that is a weakness for the following reasons and a reason why government and big business likes it.
1.  The projects are large, therefore can be kept out of the hands of individuals and in the control of big business and taxable by the government.
2.  It keeps the distribution of power through the grid.  This means all the problems, militarily and technically, will continue to exist.  These limitations will continue to justify the capital cost of the grid and maintenance costs of the grid.
However, it is my belief that power needs to be made individually, locally at individual's homes or at least neighborhoods so there is little loss in power through transport.  This also reduces power delivery as a target for terrorists.  I have not seen information concerning what happens after EMP to solar power.  I believe solar is considered a chemical process, and therefore would not be affected.  But I could be wrong there.  As I said, just not knowledgeable enough.
My concept is based on redundant collection of wind or fluid drag.  There is a lack of information on exactly how drag works mathematically (I tried to find out this information and this is what the articles said).  But, my model demonstrated the results of such collection of drag, so the process does exist and does work.
The simplest collection is at the bottom of (guessing 20' deep) streams and rivers.  The fluid flow at the bottom should be relatively consistent as the fluid will flow through a given opening and a steady rate while increased volume should flow over that point (river rises in floods).  A prototype must prove that "Stacked Blades" will actually incrementally collect flowing fluid power until operating rpms are reached.  This prototype would utilize a low rpm generator and small blades, maybe 1' in diameter.  It may take 3 stacked blades or 30, but that does not really matter.  We could, in theory, have 300 or 3000 blades stacked and operate a 1 gw generator.  2kw to 5kw is all that is needed to operate a home.  Unfortunately, hydroelectric power would have to be transported over the grid as not every home has access to hydro power locations at their homes.
Wind has a bigger challenge.  Wind is NOT consistent, but is available at every domicile.  There are two sides of wind power to consider.  There is low or no wind and there is high winds.  If the generator requires 100 rpms, then control would mean maintaining 80-110 rpms no matter the conditions.  This must be available on a small enough scale where homeowners can have them and cheap enough for homeowners to afford them.  I believe I have overcome each of these obstacles, in theory.  In high winds the rpms increase and when they reach 105% of needed rpms, one set of stacked blades turns so it no longer captures wind, then another set and another until very high winds have just the edges of the blades available to collect the wind power.  Yet the edges can be designed to maintain 80-110 rpms at 150 to 200 mph winds.  
In low to no wind conditions, methane gas, from sewers and septic systems, can keep the windmill operating between 80-110 rpms.  This would be done by making up the difference added to the low wind speed needed for 80 rpms or use methane to operate the windmill alone when there is no wind.  The key is no batteries are needed and there is reliable power 24/7.  Because this is mechanical power, it will be available even after an EMP.
I am interested in people with more knowledge than I to become involved.  I plan on building a working prototype for the hydroelectric generator to test this spring or summer.
I might add that there are other applications to "Stacked-Blades" I have not included here and may require development of lighter generators than currently exist (20 kw generator is about 1T.  My application would mean reducing the weight to about 200-300 pounds or 10% of current weight).
Please let me know if you might care to be involved.  this is a general email and I will send via that email my serious contact email:  jands_24538@yahoo.com
Mike Haluska Added Apr 24, 2017 - 4:15pm
William - your position is based on the assumption that fossil fuels are harming the atmosphere.  As I stated many times before, less than 1.5% of the CO2 in the atmosphere is attributable to human activity.  EVEN IF we somehow got rid of ALL FOSSIL FUEL burning, the CO2 concentration would only drop from 400 ppm to 394 ppm!!!
If 400 ppm didn't "wreck the planet", why would 394 ppm???
Now don't be like every other poster who reads this and just goes on as if it can be ignored because it doesn't fit their agenda.  It's not so hard - just say
"Mike - you're right, human generated CO2 isn't harming the Earth.  As a matter of fact CO2 is NECESSARY for all life on our planet!!!"   
Mike Haluska Added Apr 24, 2017 - 4:42pm
The "True Energy Breakthroughs" will come when we have solved the puzzle of room temperature superconductors.  This will make micro-miniaturization of motors, computers, robotics, magnets, etc.  But most importantly it will lead to a practical Fusion Reactor - making clean, limitless power to run the planet and even provide FTL propulsion systems to take us to the stars.
But blowing $BILLIONS on stupid shit like "Climate Change" won't get us anywhere but in DEBT!!! 
Joe Chiang Added Apr 24, 2017 - 10:17pm
Mike.  You are so eloquent.