History of Burning Behavior – Part 3.

As I have said ealier Burning Behavior (BB) really took off in the 17th century:

As a means of recording the passage of time, the 17th century was that century which lasted from 16011700 in the Gregorian calendar.

The 17th century falls into the Early Modern period of Europe and was characterized by the Baroque cultural movement and the beginning of modern science and philosophy, including the contributions of Galileo Galilei, René Descartes, Blaise Pascal, Isaac Newton; Europe was torn by warfare throughout the century, by the Thirty Years’ War, the Great Turkish War and the English Civil War among others, while European colonization of the Americas began in earnest.

Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu is the founder of Japan’s last shogunate, which lasted well into the 19th century.In the east, the 17th century saw the flowering of the Ottoman and Mughal empires, the beginning of the Edo period in feudal Japan, and the violent transition from the Ming to the Qing Dynasty in China.

As did the population: 

1000 275 million
1500 450 million
1650 500 million
1750 700 million
1804 1 billion
1850 1.2 billion
1900 1.6 billion
1927 2 billion
1950 2.55 billion
1955 2.8 billion
1960 3 billion
1965 3.3 billion
1970 3.7 billion
1975 4 billion
1980 4.5 billion
1985 4.85 billion
1990 5.3 billion
1995 5.7 billion
1999 6 billion

BB has made this Population possible. It seems that one feeds off the other and vice versa. Many combustibles have been burned over the last several hundred years including, peat, sticks, charcoal, wood, dried manure, coal (of several types), agricultural, redidential, industrial, medical and commercial waste, oil (in several forms), ethanol and other alcohol derivatives, nitroglycerin, various rocket fuels including hydrogen and oxygen, and finally the heavy metals (i.e., uranium, e.g.). The point here is not to create a catalog of combustibles because lets face it, if you get anything hot enough it will burn.

While I have to admit that writing an essay on the history of BB and manure might be fun in part because people are still doing it.


It would be fun because of all the poopoo and crap jokes I could tell. However, this is a Blog not a term paper or an exhaustive Dissertation. I just want people to see through all the “global warming isn’t happening” nonsense and “humans didn’t cause it, even if it is” Bart Simpsonisms and think about why we must stop most BB and soon.

Lets take a short look at coal  BB to act as a standard for all the BB we do. I know a lot of eco types would pick oil as the standard. It is radically inefficient. Find it, drill it, pump it, transport it, refine it, transport it again and then burn it. Still, we have been burning coal for at least several thousand years, much longer than oil, and the trail of evidence is much simpler. Dig it up, transport it and burn it. Though those crafty mine owners are now getting ready to build their electric power plants next to their mines to cut out the cost of the railroads.

For an excellent history of coal mining, child labor, explosions and just the continuing nastyness of coal mining look here http://www.pitwork.net/history1.htm.

 It contains an interesting report by the great author Charles Dickens. Remember that at the same time last week that 9 coal miners died in Utah in August 07, 129 miners died in China. Anyway records show that we burned “exposed” coal and “near the surface” coal seams from 100-200 B.C to today. Like I said, it was not before the realization that the more you burned the more Work you could do culminated in the discovery of steel. The discovery of steel led to the building of ever-larger machines. Bigger machines led to burning for (steam) transportation. Transportation led to migration. Migrations led to rapid population growth (and wars) as a result. More burning led to the internal combustible engine. This increased our population through migration and increased our food production has pretty much led us to where we are today. But to think about the sheer magnitude of coal lets think about

 Total Deaths in Coal Mining

From 1880 to 1910, mine explosions and other accidents claimed thousands of victims. The deadliest year in U.S. coal mining history was 1907, when 3,242 deaths occurred. That year, America’s worst mine explosion ever killed 358 people near Monongah, WV.


In the last 16 years coal mine deaths per year have hovered at 35 per year in the US. While this is a huge improvement still nearly 500 Americans died to get us our coal in that time period.The Chinese are following in our footsteps:

2000: 5,300 deaths.
2001: 5,670 deaths.
2002: 5,791 deaths.
2003: 7,200 deaths.
2004: 6,027 deaths.
2005: 5,986 deaths.
2006: 4,746 deaths.

In just the last 6 years nearly 40,000 people have died in China. They have the same “give a shit” attitude that we had 50 years ago. www.asianresearch.org/articles/2997.html

According  to the FAR research group this has been going on in China since 1977 or there abouts so you could add another 120, 000 deaths.


In every year from 1900 to 1945 more than 1,000 coal miners were killed in mining accidents in the US. In many years there were more than 2,000 deaths, and, as noted above, in just the month of December 1907, there were more than 3,000 coal-mining deaths. In 1961 there were 293 deaths; in 1981 there were 153, and in 2001 there were 42. When you do the math just in on these little snippets of data, neearly 400,000 coal miners just in the US and China. That is all the people in Springfield 4 times over!

And that does not factor in highly destructive mining practices like Mountain Top Removal where any related deaths are consider EXTERNALITIES by the mining companies.




 International statistics are really hard to come by. You would have go to every countries’ mining statistics sites and do a total, but India who is not too far behind China in lax standards manage to reduce  their mine deaths to 99 in 2004.  http://coal.nic.in/point18.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_coal_producing_regions  

So doing some very simple math, considering that there  are 10 major coal producing areas in the world, its pretty easy to see that nearly 10,000 coal miners die world wide every year in this modern era, and if you project that back 100 years it is possible estimate that at least  1,000,000 miners have died from direct mine fatalities. This does not include all the other causes that coal miners can die from. These are not pretty deaths either.


I am not going to project that back 3-400 years because it is just too gross and too disgusting. So what does the total tonnage look like?

 Total Amount Mined.

Please see graph:




 Briefly put, you can not possible conceive of how much coal the above graph represents. It is something on the order of PIKES PEAK. We have been burning this much coal for the last 10 years! That is 10 Pikes Peaks gone up in smoke since 1997. Whish. And its the smoke part that is killing us.

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