This is from the North Carolina Superintendent of Schools to teachers of North Carolina during World War I explaining and answering questions about the need to conserve coal.
Question (1). Is there a coal shortage, and what are the reasons for it?
Answer (1). If coal shipments were to stop, North Carolina would be utterly barren of domestic coal in less than a week. The reasons for the coal shortage are as follows: (1) The government coal requirements are 6,000,000 tons, or 300 per cent. in excess of normal, and a state of war has resulted in a net increased annual consumption by the country of 50,000,000 tons; (2) many dealers, manufacturers, and even railroads, did not renew their coal contracts in the spring and summer of 1917, with the result that the deliveries at this date, December, 1917, are far behind the normal; (3) the war basis which the country is on is reducing the transportation facilities of the railroads both as to locomotives and cars for the carrying of coal; (4) the increased demands which war preparations are making upon railroad transportation have resulted in a greatly increased consumption of coal and the wholesale confiscation by some railroads of coal shipped to dealers and manufacturers, which they are properly permitted by the government to make when it is needed to keep their trains running. With the public short on coal to begin with, and the railroads taking a large part of that which can be procured to relieve this shortage, the public is in a bad way.
Question (2). How does the conservation of coal concern you, and what good will it do?
Answer (2). Coal is one of the necessities of life just as food is, and for economic reasons the conservation of one is as necessary as the other. Government regulation keeps the price from being prohibitive, but is powerless to supply the shortage. What does it avail you if you can pay the price if you can’t get the coal? If there is not enough coal shipped to go around, is there anything that will make it go around except the careful, economical use of it by everybody concerned? You cannot expect your neighbors to conserve coal unless you do it yourself. It is an enterprise in which everybody will have to lend a hand if we get anywhere. If the coal we have, and can get, is not used intelligently and carefully, somebody is going to suffer, and why not you as well as the other fellow? Our country needs coal to win the war. This call on you to use coal with care and thrift is the call of the country. It is your chance to do your bit. If you are patriotic, if you love your country, heed it. If you want to give aid and comfort to the enemy, pay no attention to it. The average saving of one ton of coal to a family for the entire country this winter, would mean a saving of 33,000,000 tons, or 550,000 car loads of 60 tons each–nearly enough to offset the increased consumption of army, navy, munition and manufacturing plants this year. Will you study this catechism and learn how to save coal, and try to do your part?
Citation: “Fuel Conservation. Twelve Questions and Answers: Electronic Edition.” Documenting the American South. https://docsouth.unc.edu/wwi/fuel/fuel.html. Accessed 21 August 2023.
- What resource shortage is the state Superintendent trying to inform teachers about? Why do you think it’s important for teachers to have this information?
- What is contributing to the shortage of the resource?
- During World War I and according to the second question in the excerpt, how does conserving coal help both North Carolina’s war efforts and the manufacturing industry?
Locomotive: an engine used for pulling or sometimes pushing a train
Wholesale: entire amount
Procured: obtained by care or effort
Prohibitive: prevent use or purchase of something
Avail: be of use or value to
Enterprise: project that is especially difficult or important
Thrift: use sparingly; frugal
Heed: listen or follow
Munition: material used in war, especially weapons and ammunition
Catechism: book or instructive materials on a particular subject