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The great coal hole

by David Strahan - first published in New Scientist, 16 Jan 

The latest “official” statistics from the World Energy Council, published in 2007, put global coal reserves at a staggering 847 billion tonnes. Since world coal production that year was just under 6 billion tonnes, the reserves appear at first glance to be ample to sustain output for at least a century – well beyond even the most distant planning horizon.

Mine below the surface, however, and the numbers are not so reassuring. ...