In the Near East, fire worship was practiced until fairly recent times, and the temples were built over vents in the ground from which natural gas issued.
The oracle at Delphi, one of your better oracles, even more famous an oracle than Al Smith, apparently drew a crowd by having an ever-burning fire fed by natural gas.
That form of worship of natural gas blossomed in the early 21st century when it was discovered how to bust rocks up a mile below ground. Now the worship of natural gas has gotten intense enough to threaten other carbon-based civilizations. We coal buffs need help.
When we need help, we turn to China. The Chinese used natural gas as a fuel to help make salt, but suddenly quit burning it as a fuel over 1,800 years ago.
We don't know why, like we don't know why the Chinese ever did anything, and that is not a slur on anybody's wife, but we all recognize that the ancient Chinese were smarter than we are now, and so if we coal people are going to continue to market an obsolete product, we must figure out what made the Chinese abandon natural gas. And get the word out. We could then issue little oval window stickers for cars which say "Pass Gas."
We do need a line of attack to stop gas. Coal Beano, so to speak. Inasmuch as the physical properties of natural gas are so close to those of the gas produced into the recliner post- sweet potato, it is my theory that the Chinese figured out that natural gas in the earth is nothing but the accumulation of all the flatulence of mankind, and womankind too, I am afraid, which has somehow migrated downward to inner Earth.
It only makes sense that that stuff has to go somewhere and the composition of natural gas suggests that it is the end product of the decomposition of plant and animal matter, which is actually what most of us eat. Reportedly, some people do not eat meat and are thus risking their spots at the top of the food chain and may someday be eaten themselves by a ferret.
But if those vegans, whatever that means, want to put their lives at risk by not eating enough steak, that is their business.
So if we get the coal industry's giant Ministry of Information to crank up its propaganda machine, and do some reverse marketing and churn out some slick anti-gas commercials and bumper stickers, maybe we could convince the rest of the fossil-fuel burning world that natural gas is really recycled fart and then the people will shun using it and insist that their power plants be fueled by something dirtier and more expensive, good old Number 9 coal.
In the meantime, coal miners and those who live off them can only hope that across the country people's dishwater catches fire from natural gas fracked into the water, that their streams become so briny that you can pickle stuff in a bucket of water out of the creek, and that there are ample earthquakes started by people blowing up stuff a mile underground.
Gosh, will it be necessary for coal miners to go green and become environmentalists and drive long lines of coal trucks in anti-fracking parades? If the president got one letter from a coal miner against the Keystone pipeline, he would reject it and both he and the coal miner would be better off.
Reach Larry Webster, a Pikeville attorney, at email@example.com.