Appalachia faces steep coal decline. Peak Coal is the present day reality in all of the eastern coal basins. How will it affect eastern energy politics? The Powder River Basin has enough coal to power us… if we want to pay for it and dig it out of the ground, and we can ship it to the rest of the country. But at what point does it cease to be even the economically reasonable thing to do, if you don’t care about the future.
The Coming Decline and Fall of Big Coal. Appalachian mountaintop removal mining has taken off in recent years in no small part because there’s not much left worth mining underground. All the eastern coal fields are in declining production, despite these extreme techniques, and large increases in hiring. Yet somehow, these developments are being couched by the industry as resulting from the Obama administration and environmental regulations. Really it’s a geological special case of that Sagan quote: “The Universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition.”
The Finite World – Krugman at the NY Times talking about the resurgence in global commodity prices over the last year. Economic recovery in developing economies driving the markets, with the US, and indeed the entire West, largely irrelevant. Not only are we a smaller than ever slice of the pie, we’re not the ones building cities for hundreds of millions of people from scratch. I’m not sure I really understand his conception of inflation though. If rising commodity prices don’t constitute the most basic, raw form of inflation (you get less physical stuff in exchange for the same amount of labor performed), then I’m not sure what does. Historically we’ve made the economic approximation that natural resources are infinite, and all you have to do is pay the cost of going out and getting them. If that changes, then things will get weird. Maybe even weird to the point of sensible!