National Geographic : 1976 Apr
With the world's oil and gas running low, where can we turn for energy? To coal? To uranium? What else? What energy sources offer the great est near-term promise, the fewest problems? Coal is already our leading source of electrical energy. Fortunately, it is abundant, readily available. We are researching ways to liquefy and gasify it affordably, to power cars, heat homes. True, burning coal can foul our air. Mining it-from both deep and surface mines can disrupt the land, can pollute our streams. But we are solving these problems. More complete solutions are being researched. Meanwhile, some people see uranium as our most promising fuel. Nuclear plants do not pollute the air. They produce no noxious odors. The sites are clean. They have the potential to yield enormous energy from small quantities of fuel. True, our nuclear history is short, the technology young, power awesome. But, present safety records are good, and safeguards elaborate. The risk so far seems acceptable. We should continue to apply and improve our nuclear technology: de veloping breeder reactors that could insure centuries of energy from known fuel reserves. That could consume present fission wastes. Ulti mately we may unlock the limitless energy of fusion. But realizing full nuclear potential will take time-more time than the world's known supply of oil and gas will allow. So we must continue to refine our coal technology. To de velop affordable petroleum substi tutes. To make coal cleaner, less disruptive. To buy time to research other energy forms: winds, tides, the sun, geothermal heat. Coal may not be the ultimate solu tion. But it can keep things humming until that solution comes. Caterpillar makes machines used in the development of energy, what ever the form. There are no simple solutions. Only intelligent choices. CATERPILLAR Caterpllar. Catand 0 are Trademarksof Caterpllar TractorCo.