Coal has got to go. That much is undeniable. Climate change is presenting us with a tremendous, urgent threat, and coal is the dirtiest and largest single source of the fossil fuels still pouring into our atmosphere.But while that’s settled (among scientists, if not some particularly stubborn politicians), the conversation about how we’re actually going to transition away from coal is just getting started. And too often left out of that discussion, says journalist Richard Martin, is the human cost of the industry’s decline — how the people, and communities, built on Big Coal’s promises will be left to fare once it’s no longer in the picture.
This is not a book of advocacy or environmental policy or technology. The premise of the book is if we don’t do something to drastically reduce our consumption of coal, there is no hope of limiting global climate change. My view is either we shut down the coal industry, or it’s going to shut us down. What the book tries to do is take a look at the human drama and the human costs associated with this effort to transform our power system and really, if not shut down, then certainly limit our ongoing consumption of coal.