American coal companies are rightly mocked for their hamhanded and risible PR, but the Coal Association of Canada may actually have the most unintentionally funny bit I’ve seen. From their website:

The Ancient Greeks believed that everything in the world was composed of some combination of the four elements: earth, air, water and fire. These four elements still define our environment today. As such, they provide a framework for the environmental issues being tackled by Canada’s coal industry.

“As such?”

No disrespect to Aristotle & Co., but the Greek philosophers may not be the best framework for thinking about coal’s environmental impacts today. You see, unlike the wisdom of the ancients, coal is not a renewable resource.

As someone who happens to hold an advanced degree in Greek philosophy (don’t ask) I sort of hate to point this out, but those guys were wrong about an awful lot. Fish do not have souls, the heart is not the center of reason, snakes are not quadrupeds, the stars are not made out of aether, and black bile is not one of the major components of the human body. Oh, and the earth-air-fire-water thing doesn’t really “define our environment today.”

Quibbles aside, finding out that the coal industry is using Hellenic physics actually explains a lot about why the industry seems so pre-modern. Maybe they should consider updating their science to reflect some of what we’ve learned in this millennium?

Just a thought.