The Rise and Fall of Coal: From a Major Fuel Source to an Outdated Energy Option

TLDR Coal, once a major fuel source, has been surpassed by cleaner and safer energy sources. It played a critical role in the industrial revolution but is now being phased out due to its high CO2 emissions, particulate matter, and negative health effects.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 Coal is a black sedimentary rock formed from dead organic matter that was once a major fuel source but is now being surpassed by other energy sources.
02:16 Coal comes in different grades, with lignite being the lowest grade and anthracite being the highest grade, and coal has been used for thousands of years but was not widely preferred until it became the main source of heat and cooking in Britain around the year 1000.
04:24 Coal production had to be increased in Britain in the late 16th and early 17th centuries due to a shortage of trees, leading to the creation of coal mines, and coal became the driving force behind the industrial revolution in the 19th century.
06:29 Coke, a byproduct of coal, was critical in the creation of iron and steel, while coal gas was primarily used for lighting and eventually extended to heating and cooking, resulting in severe smog episodes and health issues in London during the 19th and 20th centuries.
08:34 The 20th century saw a shift towards centralized power stations for coal burning, while overall demand for coal remained high and coal-fired electrical plants continue to provide a significant portion of the world's electricity, with China being the largest contributor.
10:36 Coal seam fires can burn for hundreds or thousands of years, with examples like Burning Mountain in Australia and the underground fire in Centrelia, Pennsylvania; however, the trend in coal today is to eliminate it due to its high CO2 emissions, particulate matter, and estimated 800,000 premature deaths each year, with just 5% of coal-fired power plants responsible for 73% of emissions.
12:40 Coal has played a critical role in the past, but its replacement with cleaner and safer sources of power has been underway for years.
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