"Stopping Coal Will Kill Jobs and Traditions"

Brief Responses to Climate Change Denialism Statements

CPSG 200 Science & Global Change Sophomore Colloquium

"Stopping coal will kill jobs and traditions"

If it's being argued that coal use should be continued to preserve American culture, it is important to first recognize that coal use was actually only adopted in the 1880s as the most recent of a long line of fossil fuels. Natural gas has since surpassed coal to supply 32% of US electricity, up from 21% in 2008, and solar and wind are up to 10%, from 3% in 2008. The narrative that stopping coal will kill jobs is incorrect because companies are already switching towards alternative energy sources. A 2009 study by the Renewable Energy Policy Project found that every dollar invested in wind and solar energy creates 40% more jobs than if invested in coal. In addition, more coal production does not necessarily mean more jobs will be created in that field. Starting in 1979, automated technologies such as rock crushers and shovel swings have replaced human labor. From 1980-2010 the coal industry laid off 200,000 people as a result of automated technologies. According to The New York Times, there are 1.9 million energy jobs in the United States in 2016, of those jobs only about 160,000 are from coal which amounts to about 8% of the total market. While renewable resources are preferable and better for the environment, natural gas and oil make up 48% of energy jobs, showing that there is a greater focus on these two sources and that even a shift from coal to one of these options would be better for the job market. In addition, coal miners face many health risks that aren’t present in renewable energy fields. When analyzing issues we must look at the positives and negatives surrounding it instead of just continuing it for the purpose of “tradition.”

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Contributed by: Patrick Driscoll, Adam Stombler, Andrew Yuan

Last modified: 23 October 2017