National Geographic

From the Ashes

Coal powered our past, but will it power our future?

FROM THE ASHES presents compelling and often heartbreaking stories about what’s at stake for those working in the U.S. coal industry, as well as for the economy, people’s health, and the global climate. This feature documentary invites audiences to learn more about the biggest source of carbon pollution in the atmosphere today, an industry on the edge, and coal’s global implications.

Coal, one of humankind’s earliest fuel sources, powered the Industrial Revolution. While it is still used to generate electricity, coal is being outcompeted by cheaper and cleaner energy sources such as natural gas, solar power, and wind. Many who depend on the coal industry for jobs hope that new legislation will bring coal back as the energy superstar it was historically.

Help your students learn about coal and the other energy sources that power today's world with these activities, reference articles, and videos.

From the Ashes

Watch the film From the Ashes and use this document to guide classroom discussions

Activities and Lesson

Teach about the complex issues surrounding coal and powering our world


Learn more about key topics with these informational texts


Use these videos to teach about how we power the world


Explore the geography of coal and meet an engineer and energy advocate

The Geography of Coal in the U.S.

The Geography of Coal in the U.S.  

Which states mine coal? Where does the U.S. create electricity from coal?

Ibrahim Togola

Ibrahim Togola  

Learn more about Ibrahim's work as an engineer and renewable energy advocate.

Energy Source Photo Gallery

Explore these images depicting different sources of energy the power our world today