Carbon

The geologic period that we are describing here has the name Carboniferous. It is the time in which the great anthracite coal fields were formed. Hence also the name: Carboniferous = „containing carbon“ = coal.
Over 300 million years ago the tree trunks already rose up to 50 meters high. Lycopodineae or Equisitum species, that today we know only as nondescript ground cover, back then could become gigantic. The oxygen content of the air through the photosynthesis of countless plants climbed to about 30 percent, a rich, intoxicating atmosphere!

Anthracite (hard) coal with leaf impressions

Hard coal resulted from trees whose wood did not decay. The trunks settled into a swamp, their biomass was conserved.
Without anthracite coal the industrial revolution could not have taken place. The fuel would have been lacking.

Anthracite (hard) coal

Hard coal has been systematically mined in China for more than 2000 years. The Chinese were thus the first to use anthracite coal as fuel. The Chinese coal fields are immense. Today, almost 75 percent of the Chinese energy production comes from coal-fired power plants. And the consumption is rising. China already puts more CO2 into the atmosphere than the USA.

The Chinese symbol for fire shows two flames with sparks

The Chinese symbol for anthracite coal is a combination of the symbols for mountain and cave – and underneath burns a fire.

Chapter 6