Saturday, April 26, 2008

Global Warming: Why it all matters

Let me call attention to a couple of different stories today.

The first came to me when I looked at Dave Roberts' Gristmill blog this AM. Dave makes it a Friday Night practice of blogging a particular piece of music that caught his attention. This week, it touches on global warming, Mountain Top Removal in West Virginia and the connection is Coal. In fact, that is the name of the album from which this selection is taken. Coal, by country singer Kathy Mattea.

One might be tempted to take all of this as an intellectual exercise. After all, how many of us have really had much to do with coal mining. I know that my late sister-in-law, Mary Barnes Rolley, had her MS in Coal Geology from the Univ. of Illinois. That is about as close as I got and I am drawing Social Security.

It is often frustrating when we deal with issues like climate change that are so easily abstracted. I remember with some nostalgia my college days when Dylan was just a rumor of some young guy singing great stuff around the coffee houses and The Times They Are A-Changin' had not yet been recorded. There is no coffee house circuit anymore and potential young Dylans want to jump right to the top as an American Idol. But let me call your attention to the way that Mattea's Bend, OR concert was hyped by the local paper, the Bend Bulletin. The story begins this way...
Here’s a depressing little exercise for you to try: Hop on the Internet, visit Google Maps, and search for “Danville, W.Va.” Once you’re in Danville, click over to “Satellite” view and zoom out a little bit.

See that giant, grayish area west of town? That’s where a coal-extraction company has blown off the top of a mountain to make its job easier.

Now, zoom out more, and follow the trail of grayish spots that pockmark the rolling, green hills of the Appalachian Mountains to the southwest of Danville, extending across West Virginia and into eastern Kentucky.

Every one of those spots represents what used to be a mountain. The mountains are now flat, thanks to the extraction method known as mountaintop removal.

I challenge you do do that exercise.
Here is another challenge. Make a contribution to the West Virginia Mountain Party. They are the Green Party affiliate and they have been fighting this battle since the beginning. Anthing helps, even $10.

1 comment:

Tian said...

In the early spring of 1996 I went on an ecojustice bike tour of Washington DC. I have vivid memories of a stop where they were digging a big hole to put several levels of parking under a huge building that was going to sit on the site. The tour guide called the pit (it was huge by my standards) an "eyesore". It was probably the second biggest hole in the ground I've seen live, the biggest being a huge quarry on I-80 somewhere near Chicago. Scrolling around on that map, I'm really sure that those mountains that had been "topped" are MUCH bigger eyesores. And they are so much more out of step with the natural ecosystems around them. Truly an awful sight.

I guess Jesse Johnson wasn't kidding when he said "every day they take a mountain of coal out of West Virginia to make electricity, and it's not sustainable."