Thursday, September 20, 2012

Coal Mining Robots -- RSN?

So, coal is still "Kentucky's ace in the hole". And I see "Friends of Coal" license plates everyday. And there was just an article today in the Lexington Herald-Leader, about how the EPA's forcing scrubbers to be installed on coal-burning power plants lead to a boom in coal mining in western Kentucky, where the coal has very high sulphur content.

Also, did you know, "Coal keeps the lights on"?

But, unfortunately, pregnant women are not allowed to eat fish caught in our beautiful lakes, and the rest of us are only supposed to eat them once a week, because of the hight mercury content in the fish from all our coal-fired power plants putting the mercury in our water.

Weird that recently, coal has been taking a beating, from natural gas. Fracking (and other new techniques?) have produced a great surplus of methane, and utility companies are flocking to the much less environmentally harmful fossil fuel.

But back to coal. The last (Massey?) mine disaster was maybe 29 deaths? All the bodies that were recovered were autopsied. 1/3 of them had black lung -- and these are miners in their 20's.

So, seriously, WTF, why are we still sending people down into these hellhole mines? Why aren't the miners sitting in air-conditioned offices, in comfy chairs, on the surface, operating telepresence robots? That technology is not available? Seems to me it should be totally doable. So WTF has the University of Kentucky been doing with the 10s-100s of millions of research dollars that it has for the coal industry? I guess saving miners lives is somehow way down towards the bottom of the priorities list.

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