How do we make America great again? Burn, baby, burn!
Yes, it’s time to make coal great again!
Wave a white flag; we are ending the long war on coal. Though of course the next time we wave a flag in surrender it’s bound to be a bit soiled from all the air pollution.
As President Trump rolls back those pesky Obama era policies on global warming, let’s just roll back in time, when coal was king and the phrase climate change innocently meant a welcome change of seasons. An innocent time when greenhouse gas emissions were the furthest thought from our black lungs and fossil fuel soaked minds.
Coal Can Help Make a Better Future for America
In Trump’s backwards thinking where the future is viewed through the lens of the past, dismantling the Clean Power Plan and reviving the coal industry will, he assures us, help make America great again and leader of the free world.
But by returning to the past Trump is recklessly running over future generations. Like so many of his pledges he promises a future based on the past.
Sure, coal helped make America great that is if you were living in the last century, that idyllic time period Trump seems to want us to return to.
You Can Count on Coal
By mid-century coal not only gave America light and power it gave us all kinds of consumer abundance that helped make America the gold sooty standard of living in the world.
Once upon a time, coal was king and powered the progress of America. Post war America was the envy of the world because of all the bounty provided by the miracle of coal.
Especially bituminous coal. By far most of America’s heat, light and power came from bituminous coal.
To reinforce the vital role coal played in Americas growing economy, the Bituminous Institute, an arm of the coal industry, ran advertising campaigns including slick full color ads glorifying the coal industry and the contributions it made to modern civilization. These ads were deigned to make coal not only patriotic but essential to the American way.
The consumer way
Bituminous Coal…lights the way…powers the progress of America
It’s difficult to name anything Americans build, buy, or use that doesn’t take coal,” began this 1952 ad from the Bituminous Coal Institute.
The electricity that runs your lights, your TV sets, all your modern appliances depend on coal…for 70% of the fuel used by America’s utilities is coal. And the steel that goes into your auto, and your refrigerator, your son’s bike and your dishwasher takes coal to make – for coal is an essential ingredient of steel on a ton for ton basis.
And thousands upon thousands of the fine products that make our American standard of living the highest in the world are manufactured with power generated from coal.
Coal Fuels the American Dream
The American Dream home owed so much to coal.
The Bituminous Institute’s many ads demonstrated the promise of coal as the energy source for post war America. By the late 1940’s fossil fuels like gas and oil were beginning to give king coal a run for its money due to their increased availability and lower prices so consumers began to gradually switch to that as a home heating fuel. These ads strengthened the reputation of the coal industry, reinforcing the many advantages of bituminous coal in their daily lives.
It was important too, that to provide all that plenty, there was plenty of coal.
“So it’s important to everyone that Americas coal industry is the world’s most efficient – that America has enough coal in the ground to supply all the heat, light and power we need for centuries to come!” the ads reassured the reader.
Coal Feeds the Furnace of Progress
Behind that white picket fence (lightly covered in coal soot) Mrs. America benefited from coal in countless ways, the reader learns in this 1946 ad. From headaches to housekeeping, coal contributed to ease of modern living.
Yes, Mrs. America, an amazing number of the everyday things you live with, use, depend on – come from Bituminous Coal. Dyes to color your clothing, curtains, rugs, upholstery…wonderful synthetics fabrics such as nylons…paints and varnishes for woodwork and furniture. In most homes electricity generated from coal supplies lights – runs the radio, telephone, vacuum cleaner, sewing machine.
Of course m’ lady might have to dust and vacuum daily from all the coal dust.
Hundreds of medicines including the marvelous lifesaving sulfas come from coal! So do moth balls, perfumes antiseptics, aspirin and many other drugs. Also cosmetics and plastics for toothbrushes, combs, fixtures. Paper as well as long list of chemicals depend on coal. And of course you know 4 out of every 7 homes in America are dependably and economically heated by coal.
Have a headache? Reach for aspirin, made possible by coal-tar. For the source of aspirin and many other pharmaceuticals is phenol, a coal-tar derivative which is a jack of all trades of modern industrial chemistry.
And you’ll need all the medicine you can get if you develop respiratory problems from the coal dust
In the kitchen gas made from coal may fuel your range. Chances are electricity from coal runs your refrigerator toaster mixer and other appliances. Many food flavorings come from coal!
For the outside of your home coal makes roofing material, fertilizers, and weed killers for lawn. In fact over 200,000 useful products depend on coal and thousands of them are used around the home.
Just careful cooking up some mercury laden fish caught fresh from the lakes near that coal-fired power plant.
Countless Benefits Come from Coal
From lipstick to that smartly tailored frock, the well dressed, well accessorized gal owed it all to coal. American women say-“Thanks for Coal!” Get ready for some real wolf whistles, missy!
Fashions from coal are a bright promise for the near future.
Already we have marvelous nylons- made of coal air and water! Even more amazing fabrics are in development…and of course the manufacture of nearly everything you wear depends on machines which mean steel-which means coal. Electricity generated from coal supplies most industrial power and light,
Practically every stitch you wear owes something to coal!
Nearly all textile dyes are derived from coal. Dozens of chemicals and resins obtained from coal are needed to process or finish fabrics- give them gloss, stiffness, or body- or to make them crease proof, waterproof or shrink proof. From coal comes plastics for dress buttons, ornaments, shoes, heels.
Accessories to match also owed much to coal.
Colors for lipsticks nail polish, scents for perfumes. Plastics for costume jewelry, handbag frames, compacts…all together more than 200,000 useful products depend on coal- and many of them are used to glorify America’s women.
Naturally our fashion plate might not want to hang that frock out to dry especial if she lived in the east or an urban area.
The Down to Earth Facts about Coal
Yes sir, you could count on coal!
Coal may have been “a faithful servant of civilization” or so the ads told us, but this servant also had a dark, dangerous and sooty side that was glossed over in these ads.
Yup, you could count on coal all right…for health problems. Respiratory problems, reduction of life expectancy, hospital admissions, black lung from coal dust, congestive heart failure, chronic bronchitis, asthma attacks, global warming, ecosystem loss and degradation.
The bituminous coal featured in these ads is a type of coal known for releasing the largest amounts of firedamp, a dangerous mixture of gases like methane that can cause underground explosions. Extraction of bituminous coal demands the highest safety procedures involving attentive gas monitoring good ventilation and vigilant site management.
The down to earth facts are coal causes cancer and air pollution.
Capt. Air pollution was severe in many urban areas of the US in the first half of the 20th century in part due to burning of bituminous coal for heat.
Fuels Rush In- Magical Thinking
“There’s magic in coal,” this 1945 ad proclaims. Perhaps that’s where Trump’s magical thinking comes from. That lifting restrictions will bring back jobs and give us “clean coal.”
From the notion of “clean coal” to bringing back jobs, no amount of rubbing Aladdin’s lamp is going to make this magic come true.
It’s a false promise. Even if coal production comes back the jobs probably won’t. Like every industry coal invests heavily in automation so that it can do more with fewer people.
It is also an outdated understanding of the role, image and actual competitive position of coal in today’s marketplace. It won’t suddenly and magically persuade a range of people to use a dirty and comparatively expensive fuel to create electricity when they have other better options.
Coal Puts So Many Good Things Into Your Life
Trump is prioritizing corporate profits over the well-being of people. Burning coal is the single greatest contributor of human-created, climate-altering, civilization-threatening greenhouse gases.
Dismantling the Clean Power Plan endangers families and our planet.
Like many of Trumps broken promises, that’s one thing you can count on.
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© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.