The next time you hear someone say "we are addicted to oil" or "we are addicted to coal", try this exercise: substitute the word "prosperity" for "oil". Do the same for "coal". This suggestion came to mind while reading James Hansen's latest broadside against coal. On 15 February, Hansen wrote an opinion piece for the Guardian, in which he declared: "Coal is the single greatest threat to civilisation and all life on our planet." In late December 2008, Hansen sent an open letter to Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, in which he called coal-fired power plants "factories of death" (pdf). Hansen justifies his campaign against coal because of his belief that a global climate catastrophe looms just ahead. Perhaps Hansen is right. Then again, it's also possible that he's wrong. I no longer care about the scientific arguments about global warming. I've read what Al Gore has to...
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