Enough coal exists to sustain world energy consumption growth through at least the end of the next century. If fossil carbon fuel consumption continues to increase at current rates, however, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations will likely more than double, probably leading to significant warming of global climate, shifts in regional climates, and sea-level rise. Scientists and citizens throughout the world are discussing what should be done about the effects of our energy economy on the global environment.
The issue is very broad and engaging, ranging from basic issues of geoscience to economics to fundamental value systems, and it has mobilized great economic interests and concern for our global environment. We live in an interesting time when human activities have begun to compete with the global capacities of Earth to recycle the elements of life. In the coming years, we will see how the world community reacts to this challenge, and what combination of conservation, technological development, and adaptation is ultimately adopted.