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Discover What Killed the Dinosaurs . . . and Why it Could Soon Kill Us


Coal and Oil Built our World

Denying benefits to the peasants

By Viv Forbes



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10 Sep 10 - (Excerpts) - Coal has always been the friend of the common people – it is abundant, cheap and full of concentrated energy. However the English nobles (who owned huge private forests) organised protests against the use of this “dirty” fuel by the peasants. King Edward I banned its use 700 years ago. First offenders were to be punished with “great fines and ransoms”; second offenders were to have their furnaces smashed.

Had this first war on coal succeeded, modern civilisation would not have emerged. Today a new rich pampered Green aristocracy is again trying to deny the peasants the benefits of cheap, reliable coal energy.

Coal & Steam become the Work Horses for the World.

Just three hundred years ago, all transport and machinery relied on muscle power, or power generated by solar energy via windmills, sailing ships and water wheels. This was the heyday for alternative energy.

In pioneering days in Australia, bullock teams hauled wool from the farms and logs from the forests. Horse teams worked the farms and hauled the wheat. Copper ore was hauled on trains of donkeys from the mines in Central Queensland to go on sailing ships to the smelters in Wales


Transporting Bricks before the coming of Diesel Trucks
Somewhere in China today.


Ploughing before the age of Diesel Tractors and Steel Ploughs
Somewhere in China today

As a result of this enormous real transport cost, men had to labour long to earn staples like bread, butter and tea. Labour was cheap, but anything manufactured or transported was relatively very expensive.

Electricity Clears the Air

Coal has always been the friend of the common people – abundant, accessible, cheap, simple and a reliable source of heat and energy. As forests were stripped of wood in the depth of the Little Ice Age, around 300 years ago, they turned to coal for domestic heating and small industries.

The widespread burning of coal in open fires and dirty furnaces in cities like London and Pittsburgh eventually created terrible air pollution. A combination of soot, smoke and fog plus sulphur dioxide gas combined to form deadly smog.

The Black Fog in London in 1952 was caused when a thick fog plus a temperature inversion trapped the polluted air close to the ground. Over 4 days this fog became so dense that cars and buses had to stop, it seeped into homes and theatres, visibility was reduced to inches and maybe as many as 4,000 people died. Fifty bodies were removed from one city park in London. This terrible experience brought action. At long last the burning of soft coal in open fires was banned in London.

But it was not Parliament that cleaned the air – as in Edward’s day, poor people continued to burn coal when the alternative was pollute the air or die of cold. For the poor people, life was still a battle for food to eat and energy to warm their houses.

What cleared the air in “The Big Smoke” was invisible energy – the magic of electricity. Electricity captured the energy of coal in distant power plants. They used hotter and more efficient combustion in well designed furnaces that burnt the coal more completely and more cleanly than open-grate fires. Early power stations still emitted some pollutant gases but these were disbursed in tall chimneys in less populated areas. Clean invisible silent energy was delivered by wire to every home in the city.

The major emissions from modern well designed coal fired power stations are water vapour, carbon dioxide and nitrogen – all harmless normal atmospheric gases essential for all life. See:

Keeping the Lights on

Today, in all rich western democracies, climate alarmism is demonizing carbon fuels. When this is combined with nuclear phobia in some sheltered societies, we have set in train a momentum that threatens our ability to keep the electric magic alive.

Oil saves the Whales

Like coal, oil is a naturally occurring hydrocarbon. Crude oil has been seeping into the oceans and onto land for longer than humans have walked the earth, but only very recently did humans learn to produce and harness the energy of this liquid carbon fuel.

At a time when the first squatters and prospectors were moving into North Queensland with their horses, cattle, sheep, drays and panning dishes, the first bore hole drilled to look for oil was sunk in Pennsylvania in 1859, just 150 years ago.

At this time, whale oil provided home lighting, and fleets of whaling ships scoured the seas for whales. Whales faced extinction.

Responding to consumer needs, the first great product from crude oil was kerosene. This new lighting fuel was cheaper and cleaner than whale oil and swiftly replaced it.

It was kerosene, not Greenpeace, that saved the whales.

Coal and Oil Built our World, Feed our People and
Saved the Whales and the Forests. Will we Learn
from History? Or just Become History?

See all of this fantastic article:

This article was written by Viv Forbes with editorial assistance from several members of the Carbon Sense Coalition. (

Forbes invites you to download the above print-ready pdf and spread it around. Print and give to kids, parents, grandkids, teachers, media and politicians. Send as an attachment to friends, or as a link to a wider distribution. We are in a war and the enemy has infiltrated everything. There is nothing inevitable about progress and prosperity. As Cuba, North Korea and many others have shown, destruction is far easier than construction. This is a battle for ideas, and lovers of science, freedom and enterprise are losing.



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