Can IT help to keep more coal in the ground?

by Daniel Kessler

April 13, 2010 has an excellent and poignant post up today on the connection between IT and coal. The blogger, Brooks Boliek, comes from a coal mining family, and he’s clearly been affected by the recent mining incident in West Virginia in which 29 miners died after being trapped underground. The efficiencies that IT can create could be enough to keep more coal in the ground, Boliek writes.

"What does this have to do with information and communications technologies? ICT can make it possible for fewer people have to go underground. ICT’s long suit is efficiency. It can make us use less electricity, and less electricity means we need less of the black stuff that makes it.

There’s a conundrum there. It’s the same conundrum that faces the miners everyday they ride the man lift. Mining is dangerous, dirty and difficult, but it is also rewarding. Miners make a lot of money and that money fuels the economic activity in small towns in out-of-the way places where there isn’t a lot of money to be had. Reducing our need for the black stuff, whether it’s coal or oil, could very well have an impact in those small towns and out-of-the way places.

It’s a tough problem, but in the end ICT also provides jobs. It has the potential to provide more than those in the coal industry. As much as I personally admire and respect those people who do that dirty, dangerous and difficult job, changing the nation from a country too dependent on the black stuff to a nation dependent on the green stuff is really the only way to go. Making our homes, cars and industries more efficient and less dependent on the black stuff isn’t just good for the environment, it’s as economic necessity for the country as a whole."

 More at


We Need Your Voice. Join Us!

Want to learn more about tax-deductible giving, donating stock and estate planning?

Visit Greenpeace Fund, a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) charitable entity created to increase public awareness and understanding of environmental issues through research, the media and educational programs.