Who will stop burning coal? Transferring our Carbon footprint to the Third World


By most estimates we have used about a third of the coal deposits on the planet.

Led by western Europe, industrialized nations are moving towards a sustainable future.  Unfortunately this may mean that developing nations will reject sustainable technology in favor of the technologies we left behind.

With the rise of Nanosolar it may eventually become more cost effective than coal, particularly given our dependence on cheap oil for extraction.  Most likely we will sell our coal to countries that want it.

So we will all feel better about getting our energy in a clean way but is it possible to stop the use of coal?

US Coal Deposits:



7 Responses

  1. Off the topic of your post, but I wondered if you knew the major studies on global warming or where they are published. I’d love to look at the science more and don’t have a lot of time for research so I’d rather go right to the publications.


    • Unfortunately there is no one study that proves a link between human activity and the changing climate, which is why is was so easy for previous generations/administrations to shrug off the whole thing.
      A consensus had gradually been reached through thousands of smaller studies that all together show an undeniable correlation.
      The most recent and comprehensive report would be the UN panel on climate change.
      Also something that helped me visualize and understand the whole process better was understanding the carbon cycle

  2. just a thought… let us examine the TelCo senario… In the US we built up an expansive network of landlines. Cellular technology, fiber optics, and wifi are the way of the future, but progress on those frontiers are hampered in part by companies who don’t want to lose their business to a more efficient technology. Instead of ditichign landlines all together, they instead thry to find ways to rejeuvanate an old technology.

    In developing countries however, their celluar network and wireless communication infrastructure is in many ways, more advanced than ours, mainly because it was cheaper to establish a cell network than lay down millions of miles of landlines.

    Using that line of logic, isn’t it reasonable to assume that if industrialized nations make a considerable effort to transition to green tech (wind, solar, hydro, etc) that developing countries would adapt that technology instead of building big power plants? Further more, it is said that a solar array covering 92 sq miles in the deserts of Arizone can collect enough energy in one year to power the country for 10 years? Wouldn’t such a model play well into the communist and socialist ideologies of Asian countries? I would think, with the exception of china, it would be in the best interest of most developing nations to wait for green tech to blossom.

  3. I think small stable countries without natural resources may follow the green energy trend but only with substantial loans from the Industrialized world.

    The major problem with implementing sustainable energy is the startup costs and this is certainly not limited to the third world. Unfortunately people will use what will give them a competitive advantage and with coal reserves holding strong, fossil fuels have that advantage.

    Sustainable energy is like mining for gold, fossil fuels is like finding giant nuggets in a stream bed.

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