National Geographic : 1975 Aug
Coal. A relic of yesterday? Or our fuel for today and tomorrow? Rea son will support either view. Some people link coal to the past. To a yesterday of smoke-filled air, soot, dirty streams, ashes. The black ened, hollow-eyed faces of miners. Coal, at the century's turn was a dirty fuel. That's one reason why oil and gas took its place. In 1910 coal provided 90% of our energy. Today only 18%. Many believe our oil and gas will be gone early in the next century. True, they say, there are great reserves. Oil shale. Tar sands. But present extrac tion methods require huge amounts of capital and tremendous volumes of water. That, plus environmental protection requirements, limit our ability to meet oil needs from these sources. Other energy sources seem equally undeveloped and far away in time. Time may be running out. What can we do? We need oil and gas. Not only for fuel, but for petro chemicals, pesticides, plastics, rubber products. But the plain fact is our supplies won't last forever. Fortunately, we do have an alterna tive fuel: coal. Coal is abundant. Quickly available. And we have the technology to mine and convert it at acceptable economic and environ mental cost. And it's versatile. Coal can supply us with chemicals for in dustry and fuels for transportation. Much the same as oil and gas. Coal is not only a basic fuel, but it can buy time to develop additional energy sources and do the neces sary research to perfect nuclear technology. Caterpillar products are used in most energy industries. They power drill rigs and pump oil, mine coal and atomic fuels. They reclaim land and prepare power sites. We also share America's concern over availability of ample energy at affordable eco nomic and environmental cost. There are no simple solutions. Only intelligent choices. Caterpillar. CATand areTrademarks of CaterpiLAR Caterpillar.Catand ® are Trademarksof CaterpilarTractorCo.