I’ll level with you, coal is pretty dirty stuff. I’m in the coal game but I’ll give you that one. It doesn’t do the atmosphere or the landscape much good. However had humans never used coal, then steel and power could not have been made, the industrial revolution would not have happened and we would still be living subsistence lives with short life expectancy.
Today this is still the reality for much of the developing world and even part of the developed world. The reality is that at the carbon price required for renewables to completely replace coal, many people even in developed nations would slip into poverty and most people would see their standard of living significantly eroded.
The answer certainly lies in providing consumers with palatable choices. In the short term this boils down to energy efficiency and competition in energy supply to achieve both lower emissions and higher living standards. In the long term we need technology to deliver. In the meantime, activists that delay new efficient coal mine developments could actually be inflating living costs and increasing emissions. The market will ultimately adopt palatable solutions as they are developed without interference or government assistance.