Simply because the quiz and the research appear to have been put together by folks representing the coal industry, does not mean that they and their information are wrong. The information needs to be dealt with on its own, and I think you have a point there. Even people I don't agree with in general can bring real information to the table; my animus shouldn't automatically keep me from considering what they have to say.
My understanding of what they have to say comes down to this: use of coal isn't such a bad thing. The reason use of coal isn't such a bad thing is because our atmosphere can tolerate a lot more Carbon Dioxide than we're dumping into it now and the earth will survive because the earth has done that before.
The last time we spiked a temperature rise and an increase in CO2 levels such as the ones that the friendly folks at the coal company web site were talking about was during the cycle in the middle ages, if I remember correctly. It's on the late side now, so my capacity for detail work isn't good. But I do remember that the Thames froze during Shakespeare's time and they could and did skate across it. Food was difficult because the growing seasons were affected and starvation was not uncommon. If you'll remember the historical record, the initial settlement of the new work by the vikings took place in Nova Scotia or thereabouts and it was called Vineland the Good because of the extended, warm growing season. Getting there was simple because Greenland really was green and not covered by glaciers and could support a farming population and a sea-going population from the trees that grew there. With the climate change, of course, most of the folks on Greenland died, as did most of the colonists in America. Iceland was OK because there was a lot of geothermal warmth and it was a fishing stop from ireland and Norway. That was not a large climate change, mind you; it was a small one, and the populations concerned were small, but they were human populations that depended on farming and fishing for food. The overall temperature shift wasn't very large, but it killed a lot of people, it wiped out a lot of farm-land, and the overall population was not very large.
The total world population was a billion or likely somewhat under.
A global climate change approaching the sort that we had at that time would hit a world with six to eight times the population, and with the food supplies heavily dependent on long transportation chains. We are in a situation that is considerably more fragile in terms of the species than we were at that time. If you look at standard j-curves of population densities, you find that population die offs tend to happen higher on the neck of the curve, where we are now, and not so much on the lower slopes of the j-curve, where the population density is scattered.
A more industrial, more civilized society seems to be more vulnerable to large die-offs. The coal industry doesn't mention the increased vulnerability of the population in question. They only speak about the regularity of the CO2 cycle.
Nor do they mention that CO2 is not the only result of the use of fossil fuels. Burning fossil fuels produces other pollutants than CO2. Among them are the constituents of acid rain, which attacks vegetation, but also attacks, housing, sidewalks, paint and tissue such as lungs. It also tends to change the ph levels of the soil and means that the plants that can be grown there alter, and with that alteration the ecosystems that have over centuries adapted to human presence, become productive at times when we need just the opposite. The water itself changes. Streams and lakes become more acidic, sometimes to the point where they can no longer support life. While we may be able to tolerate a higher level of CO2, we do need a regular supply of oxygen, and we need to have our soil be able to work things out with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, otherwise plants won't grow.
All these things are tied together.
The coal company web-site an quiz is quick to point out the number of not climate scientists who signed petitions urging action against climate change. This was a fair and straightforward sort of thing to do. Then, in mentioning their own petition, they mention the total number of signatories as well. After making such a big deal about the number of non climate scientists who'd signed the petition demanding action on global climate change, you'd think they be even more quick to crown over their own, yet they did not.
If it were me, and I had even as many, I'd have said so. I'd have said, Gee willickers, Guys, we're the Coal Copmpany, and we got, Hey, (to pick a number out of a hat) 25% of that number of actual climate scientists to sign up with us. If we could get 25% of the Climate scientists to sign up with us of all people, can't you imagine what a real debate is going on behind closed door over there in the Climate Science Community!
Heck, If I were one of those Coal Guys, I'd make a big deal about 10%! I'd say, 10%! That's more than reasonable doubt, don't you think folks? Don't we deserve even a reasonable doubt about all this? Sure we do.
Silence. In the middle of their article and their quiz, on friendly territory, they drop a little poison in the water about the people who want to do something about what they see is a threat to human life on the planet, and then stay absolutely silent about their own survey and the percentage of actual Climate experts who signed on to their point of view.
This must clearly be an accidental oversight.
As must be the omission of any discussion of any other potentially dangerous gasses from the discussion. Gasses that have contributed to a fair number of deaths of the years, such as sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide that come from the burning of softer coals. It would also be interesting to hear an explanation of exactly what this new scientific breakthrough might be that they've been calling "The New Clean Coal" that we've been hearing about for the last several years. All us asthmatic want to know about that, and the people with COPD are lining up with curiosity writ large as well.
Nor is it clear, for that matter, that all the CO2 being tossed into the atmosphere NOW is the same as the CO2 that was tossed into the atmosphere way back THEN, simply because the mixture is different. We know that CO2 is going in both NOW and did go in back THEN, yes, but exactly what went in with it and in what proportions are certainly not addressed in this article, and the issue is ignored as though it was a matter of no importance.
You can pour oil into two bowls, and into one bowl pour water and into the other pour ammonium nitrate, and the nature of what you're going to get out of them may be quite different. We've got a very complex soup or chemicals laying around today, and exactly how it's the same and how it's different may make a very big difference in the outcome. This article pretends there is no difference.
I think that's just one of the mistakes that you're overlooking here.
Sincerely, Bob Kaven