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  • Lindsey Smith

    Bill, thanks for bringing up the issue about school textbooks. I grew up in a small, conservative town and did not realize the method of teaching from textbook (kind of, sort of brainwashing) until my college classes. I'm torn because I do think that teachers need structure. I also think that standardize testing leads teachers to teach to the test, so students score higher, and then districts receive more funds and/or merch. However, I think that students would learn more if teachers had an outline of must covered lessons, but could stray from the norm. This may inspire more creativity out of students and they may learn more. What are your thoughts?

  • Sally Bunner

    Coal, and the entire fossil fuel indsutry, is certainly something that the young generation of today will have to deal with in the future. The supplies will only last a few more generations. The atmopshere will last even less time than that if we actually burn everything we have in reserve.

    I work with a growing internationa movement of students who are working with their college endowments to divest from all fossil fuels. We believe that divestment is one "tool in the tool-box" for working towards climate justice.
    Check out more of the movement at and We don't beleive divestment is the "be-all-end-all," but rather that it is a solidarity tool for a generally priviledged student population to work together with groups who are and have been creating climate justice. Lets start educating ourselves, each other, and our youth on the problems of the fossil fuel indsutry. There is no need to demonize, rather a need to put our money into an economic system which is also productive for the planet, rather than destructive.


  • melloe

    This is pretty much true to my experience. I was actually surprised to find out that most of the world still relies on coal. In high school I definitely assumed it was more of an old-timey thing.

  • michael.arquin


    You need to check out all the new curricula arising that is helping teachers understand the impacts of coal and the promise of new technologies.

    As the director of KidWind we work on this problem everyday.

    We have trained over 8000 teachers that impact close to 1000000 student a year and it is growing all the time. While we discuss the impacts of coal and damage it can cause we also spend a great deal of time discussing what is coming next.

    We are not the only group that is doing this. Check out the Will Steger Foundation they have some great new curricula.

    Drop me a line happy to show your teachers what we do. We are in for the long haul...

    Michael Arquin

  • Sarah Mele

    I know that a lot of this article is used to build up the facts and the gross offenses of the coal industry and how they've leached their fingers into so many different areas of our lives and buddied up with all kinds of other organizations from non-profits, to the education sector, to other businesses. But, I just want to point out that, while the comments below are focusing on these aspects, the purpose of this article is to talk about curriculum reform in schools, and making our youth more in touch with the reality of environmental issues and climate change, instead of having a false tale be told and so many current issues swept under the rug. I think this initiative to teach kids about the environment, and enormous corporate polluters is an excellent idea to creating informed and passionate young leaders. But, I do hope that these programs (such as teach-ins) can focus not solely on coal, but incorporate the concepts of corporate industrialized agriculture and the agricultural inputs industry that uses so many fossil fuels as well!

  • virginia.llorca1

    Electricity will get more expensive without he coal to produce it. Yet people get all in a swivet if you want to put up a windmill cuz a bird might run into it. It is only political lobbyists that keep us from using renewable energy sources, like wind, water, and the sun. Watch the movie Sahara and only pay attention to the part about the disposal plant in the desert.

  • david.l.allison

    Coal and oil are filthy and destructive when burned. Production of oil using oil sands is at least as destructive as strip mining and mountain top removal for coal. For the benefit of the earth, the U.S.A., Canada and Mexico should legally prohibit the possession, sale, export or transportation of coal or oil produced with oil sands.

    Environmental NGOs should create and distribute lesson plans and materials explaining climate change and the harm to the environment from mining, drilling, transporting and burning those hydrocarbons.

    Survival of people now living on earth and their children is more important than short-term money or jobs..

  • bradtittle

    1 kWh = 1 Person Day.

    Coal makes it possible to have 100 person days for < $10.

    That saves lives. That makes it possible to get more done with less people. We can harvest more grain, extract more oil, process more goods and make them available cheaper to more people. Less people have to be in harms way (those miners don't swing axes anymore).

    Cheap power saves lives.

  • bradtittle

    This is pure FUD.

    Sorry but coal saves more lives every day than ever have died. Coal miners are definitely at risk and can die in the course of their jobs or as a side effect of the exposure they receive. People dying as a result of coal putting pollution put in the atmosphere is completely irrational. There was a time when the coal stacks made London a moderately deadly place. Today, that just isn't the case.

    Coal saves lives way more than it takes them away.

    It makes electricity cheap.

    • Sally Bunner

      Sorry brad, but subsidies makes coal cheap. And the fact that the coal price is based a lot on how much we have in reserves. Over the course of the next decade the price in coal will increase significantly as international institutions start to pressure governements and industry to lower carbon emmissions. (like the World Bank:

      The reason coal is so cheap is because its priced according to a faulty version of the future in which climate change is not a factor, and in which the supply of coal is endless. Unfortunately, people are starting to realize that humans have a bigger impact on our planet than some people would like to believe. Unfortunately, the young people who are not yet being educated well-enough are the ones who will have to pay for these consequences.

  • Curtis Loftis

    Writers like this one seem to demean everything in order to attain stature.
    When I read through crap like this, I think of something I should be doing that will actually contribute to society, rather than wasting my time on this read.

  • dcwarlick

    The article is good and makes sense, but we can't be against everything. What exactly is this author for? I remember about 1970 when the US set limits on oil imports, but that made gasoline too expensive, so we dropped the import limitations. Then some thought nuclear energy was clean and cheap, but every new facility got sued by the public or micromanaged by the NRC. In Atlanta, where I live, we regulate new car emissions but not the smelly output of old cars, leaf blowers, or public vehicles (school buses). I'm fine with limiting coal (not that the US uses much coal, as most of it is consumed in China), but let's fasttrack something we like (domestic corn, imported sugar, North Dakota shale, Texas oil, Pacific Coast wind, ocean currents, sunlight) and stop all the lawsuits against the preferred source.

    • Paul Suckow

      China does burn almost as much coal as the rest of the world put together (, but United States electric generation from coal still exceeded generation from natural gas last summer (2012, And total US coal production remains "steady as she goes" at about 100 million short tons per month, with Wyoming coal growing as eastern coal declines ( Per EIA exports peaked at 125 million short tons in 2012, but are expected to fall back to more usual 1/12 of a year's production in 2013 thanks in part to increased Asian mining of this globally abundant fossil carbon resource. Like oil and natural gas, the best thing we can do with coal is conserve it. Humans have no idea yet how valuable all fossil organics will become in closed loop industrial processes, perhaps by 2200 on a very hot planet with over 14 billion people, allowing us to mass synthesize pretty good food from limited agricultural production by mixing in the garbage and sewage streams we simply throw away today.

  • sjk2128

    I work in urban agriculture and urban food security and just want to point out, coal isn't the worst offender: it's METHANE!

    Methane is 25x more potent than any carbon dioxide emission. The effects of factory farming impact climate change even more than fuel emissions. One of my favorite at-a-glance illustrations was put together by the Environmental Working Group in 2011. Check it out here:

    The more perspectives on ways to combat climate change, the better.

    • Sally Bunner

      Thanks! Its true, the good thing about Methane though is that it disipates in the atmosphere more easily. That's not to say that methane isn't a problem, it is, and a big one. But its hard to say which is worse as the carbon that makes it into the atmopshere does not disipate as quickly as the methane. Lots and lots to be done!