King Coal

The government has delivered on its promise, via statutes and regulations, that every building in the US be heated by coal-fired electricity by 2050. All buildings – residential, commercial, and industrial – are required to have coal-fired electrical generators within the building.  Every building now has a coal bin and coal deliveries are ubiquitous.

All vehicles are now propelled by coal-fired steam engines.  Coal bins replaced gas tanks.  The range of vehicles is limited to 30-40 miles between refills of their coal bins.  Thus, coal-refueling stations are on almost every block.  Vendors also refill vehicles’ coal bins while the vehicles are idle overnight.

Companies within the extraction industry are thriving, with enormous profits, tax-exempt by statute.  Market capitalizations for these companies are far eclipsing the former high-flying technology sector.  These companies now fund 58% of the re-election costs in the US Congress.  They fund 100% in Wyoming and West Virginia.  The Coal Party, formed in 2030, is now dominant. The Democratic Party has withered with steadily decreasing numbers of elected representatives.

Every major metropolitan region of the US looks like Pittsburgh in the 1940s.  Few people live past 60 years old, victims of various lung ailments.  A diagnosis of asthma is a death sentence.  Life expectancy is continually decreasing. The Social Security Trust Fund is flush, as few people live to collect benefits.  Congress is using this windfall to fund the Coal Research Initiative.

With carbon pouring into the atmosphere, global warming has accelerated.  Greenland and the Antarctic ice caps are melting much faster than projected.  Sea levels are rising faster as well. The government has decided to abandon Miami and New Orleans.  The fate of New York City is currently a heated debate, with many pundits predicting that government will soon abandon it.

The state of West Virginia, once priding itself on a wonderland of forest, has been denuded of trees and is, in effect, an enormous open-pit coalmine.  Its’ cites have been bulldozed to enable exploiting coal reserves.  The mining conglomerates now own almost 100% of the land in the state.  The state legislature has effectively disbanded, without little to do and almost no tax revenues. Wyoming, with four times the area of West Virginia, has so far avoided this fate.

Employment in the extraction industries has dramatically increased, although this trend has been moderated by increased use of automation.  The Coal Research Initiative is investigating building coal pipelines to every building in the US.  This would eliminate the costs of delivering coal by trucks, greatly improving rampant traffic congestion.  The United Mine Workers, who represent the truck drivers, is fighting this initiative.

Money previously invested in science and technology R&D has been diverted to improving coal infrastructure and innovation.  US universities have quickly developed coal research programs as the only way to secure grants and contracts.  The agenda of the National Science Foundation is totally focused on coal.  The National Institutes of Health are investing major sums in research to improve human pulmonary capacities for breathing coal dust and smog.

Congress has voted to let other countries take the lead in all other areas of science and technology.  The void this created was rapidly filled by China, India and Europe.  Foreign student enrollment in US universities is near zero.  Top US faculty members have immigrated to these other countries.  Major technology companies have relocated their headquarters, and especially their R&D centers, to these other countries.

Immigration to the US has disappeared.  Tourist travel to the US has also almost disappeared.  All other countries have issued tourist advisories, warning people of the health hazards of visiting the US.   Many once-popular tourist destinations are no longer maintained and sit in dilapidated conditions.  The US population grimly faces each day as conditions worsen and government control tightens.

The investors and executives, who greatly benefit from the enormous profits of king coal, no longer reside in the US.  They have immigrated to sunnier climes.  Their wealth derives from extracting natural resources in the US, monetizing these resources, and directing these monies to their luxurious perches.  It took only 30 years to transform the world’s largest economy into a backwater, a former developed country.

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