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I thought it was at least 200. According to the Wikipedia article on coal, an estimate from British petroleum is 155 years. I don't know under what assumptions this was made, if we don't just adjust for economic growth but also assume that coal should substitute for oil and gas when those run out, it would become less.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sat Oct 14th, 2006 at 08:19:03 AM EST
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It's 155 years at current demand. Assuming demand grows by just 4% per year, over 159 years' worth of the initial demand is consumed in 51 years.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Oct 14th, 2006 at 08:33:44 AM EST
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And if coal is turned into fuel to replace oil, we will run out of coal even sooner.
by Plan9 on Sat Oct 14th, 2006 at 10:05:28 AM EST
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Yes, that is a point...

I looked into it, and first, BP is taking proven reserves. Estimated reserves are 10% higher, but that's not very much. Coal has grown very much over the past two years (around 5%) due almost entirely to China, but the 10-year average is 2.5%.

So if we factor in that coal will have to gradually replace oil and gas as a source of electricity, 4% growth or higher is necessary, otherwise the growth rate it will be lower, I think.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sat Oct 14th, 2006 at 11:01:40 AM EST
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