WHERE ARE YOU GOING WiTH THAT COAL? by Roy with Leonard Maar Doty


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Stick around, and you'll discover that this babyish-looking, loose-talking book is about the chemical conversion of coal--firstly, into hydrocarbons, secondly, into oil or gas and then into petrochemicals. The point, iterated and reiterated (like much else): ""As our reserves of [petroleum and natural gas] are used up, and the cost of imported oil and gas rise, coal conversion becomes a much more attractive undertaking."" But first we scramble through the early uses of coal, the invention of the steam engine and applications thereof, the advent of electrical power and applications thereof, and the production of iron and steel--which leads us (of course!) into hydrocarbons. A few problems: imprecise, apparently conflicting (as well as repetitive)statements of fact (p. 10: ""Because it burns with a steady, intense heat, coal replaced wood . . .""; p. 11: ""Coal gives off more heat than wood, so it began to replace wood . . .""); ungrammatical sentences and non-sentences (""During the early 1970s, as we began to realize that petroleum fuel of all kinds,"" period); incomplete, incomprehensible explanations of technological processes; obfuscation on matters of policy (re surface mining, slurry pipelines, high-voltage transmission); disregard of miners' interests and tacit promotion of mineowners' (""a risky investment""). Where Are You Going With That Coal? two Dory tots ask a friendly miner on the jacket, all unsuspecting. One thing certain: it's not to be reached via cartoons and carelessness.

Pub Date: March 10th, 1978
Publisher: Doubleday