EPISODE 415 CARBONIFERUS Era -51 million years ago -where we get out coal.

EPISODE 414   when will we deplete oil, gas and coal deposits on planet earth?(gifts from the carboniferous era)

alan skeoch
august 23, 2021

Much of THE world was one gigantic swamp 350 million years ago

Picture of anthracite coal from Pennsylvania.   Look at the layering…ancient trees

It took 50 million years for beds of coal to be formed from the huge treeanimals living in the 
dense jungles and immense swamps of the Carboniferosera 299 to 350 million years ago.  Correction that immense pile of dead matter

was laid down 51 million years ago. A million years extra.Then the great piles of vegetation were covered
with sedimentary rock and heated from the molten bowels of the earth.   We call
the stuff coal today.   Really pressured ancient detritus became anthracite coal.
Less pressured material became soft of bituminous coal.  Both forms of’
coal were the basis of our Industrial Revolution which began about 1800 and
is still underway.   We have been burning coal, lots of it, for the last 221 years.

Now which time period is longer?  1) The Caroniferous Age  299 to 350 million years
                                                       2) The Industrial Revolution  1800 to 2021 (and beyond to 2090)

Can the two events even be compared.  Our place in the history of the earth is tiny.
Silly question.  But a question that makes me wonder whether the world as we know can
survive when the coal runs out   And it will run out.

What about oil?  good question.  We will run out of oil in 2053….32 years form now according 
to a British Petroleum study.

What about gas?  good question…we will run out of gas n 2,060…39 years from now.

Is there an alternative?   Of course there are alternative sources of energy.   That is why
we re talking more and more about electricity.   Electric cars are already being manufactured
en masse.   But electric energy needs something to turn those turbines.   Water power is an
answer but there are only so many rivers that can be dammed (damn it)..  Nuclear power
is another turbine turner but what will we do with the deadly waste…and we all
remember Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.  Wind power…sunlight..other power sources currently
provide A minuscule part of our energy needs


Oil will end by 2052   – 30 years time

Gas will end by 2060  – 40 years time

Coal will last till 2090 –   70 years time

However, according to BP [5], earth has 53 years of oil reserves left at current rate of consumption.

Figure 1  Energy reserves in billion tonnes of oil equivalent – Btoe [4]


According to the 2019 Annual Energy Outlook [6] global GDP growth between 2017 and 2040 is expected to average 3.4%. 

The world energy demand will grow by 1/3 through 2040, driven mostly by rising consumption in transportation in China, India and parts of Asia.

This is obviously unsustainable. These are horrific figures that will happen sooner than we can possibly mitigate.


So this takes us back to coal..  Dirty old coal will be around for the rest of this century and beyond. 
COAL is a problematic energy source even though it started and still sustains industrialization.  Burning
both anthracite and bituminous coal destroys the air we breathe.  Tiny particles of
coal in the air we breathe works like sandpaper in our lungs.  Black Lung…by product is S02…sulphur
dioxide which becomes H2SO4 when combined with water. Sulphuric Acid.  Acid Rain.

Where is the coal?  Two countries have the largest coal supply in the world.
First is the United Ststes and second is China.   Both countries resist the
efforts of environmentalists to stop burning coal.  It is killing us…smoke
and waste.   Acid rain. It seems we will burn coal until we have used up 
all the coal that it took 51 million years to create…and we will do that within the
lifetimes of our grandchildren. Then what?


Enough of this doom and gloom.  Is there an answer that could provide cheap
energy for this century and centuries to come.  I think the answer is yes…infinite 
source of energy could be found in the water we drink and in the rivers, lakes and
oceans that cover
most of our planet.  Hydrogen!.  What is the by product of burning hydrogen?  Water.
H20.  Split the water into its component parts.   We already do that.  Yes, it is dangerous.

Who am I?  I am nor a chemist or even a scientist.  So once again I turn to my
science mentor, Robert Root.   What do you think Bob?   What will we do when
the coal, oil and gas are all used up?   and isn’r reliance on coal stupid in the short run?



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