The industrial revolution that began around 1750 was powered in large part by coal, and the carbon-rich fuel had 200 good years after that.
By the middle of the last century, however, serious studies had begun of its deleterious effects on human health—and that was before the climate-change impact of human emissions of carbon dioxide became known.
Transportation will slowly electrify over the coming decades, while coal's share of electric power generation will wane worldwide.
That's the conclusion of numerous studies and analyses in the automotive, energy, and utility industries.
Now that conclusion has been underscored by the CEO of a company that has profited greatly from coal: the railroad CSX, an amalgamation of lines that includes one founded to haul bituminous coal from the seams of Appalachia.
"Coal has no future," said Hunter Harrison, the chief executive of CSX, in a presentation to industry analysts last week.