Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Coal Is a Miracle It Ignited a Revolution but Is Little Appreciated

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Coal Is a Miracle It Ignited a Revolution but Is Little Appreciated

Article excerpt

History, on the "right side" of which Barack Obama seeks to keep us, has a sense of whimsy. Proof of which is something that happened last week: Britain's last deep-pit coal mine closed, a small event pertinent to an enormous event, the Industrial Revolution, which was ignited by British coal.

The mine closure should not, however, occasion cartwheels by the climate's saviors, fresh from their Paris achievement. The mine is primarily a casualty of declining coal prices, a result of burgeoning world energy supplies. Demand for coal is expected to increase for at least another quarter-century.

The mine closed immediately after the planet's latest "turning point" - the 21st U.N. climate change conference since 1995, most of which have been heralded as "turning points." The climate conference, like God in Genesis, looked upon its work and found it very good. It did so in spite of, or perhaps because of, this fact: Any agreement involving nearly 200 nations will be primarily aspirational, exhorting voluntary compliance with inconsequential expectations.

Secretary of State John Kerry knew that any agreement requiring U.S. expenditures and restrictions on wealth creation would founder on the reef of representative government. He remembers why Bill Clinton flinched from seeking Senate ratification of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol: The Senate voted 95-0 to disapprove the protocol's principles, with Massachusetts Sen. Kerry among the 95.

Eighteen years later, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says: "Before [the president's] international partners pop the champagne, they should remember that this is an unattainable deal based on a [U.S.] domestic energy plan that is likely illegal, that half the states have sued to halt and that Congress has already voted to reject."

The Paris agreement probably occasions slight excitement among the planet's billion people who lack electricity, and the hundreds of millions in need of potable water. Historians, write Walter Russell Mead and Jamie Horgan of The American Interest, are likely to say that the Paris agreement ended climate change the way the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Treaty ended war. …

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