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5 Mining Projects That Could Devastate the Entire Planet

Burning coal and oil for more than 100 years has resulted in human-made climate change. We cannot allow another 100 years of the same.

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Coal in Appalachia

In late September, leading climate scientist Dr. James Hansen and more than 100 activists from Appalachia Rising were arrested in front of the White House in Washington, D.C., for protesting mountaintop removal coal mining in the Appalachia. Jeff Biggers reported, “Appalachian residents are calling on the EPA to halt any new permit on the upcoming decision over the massive Spruce mountaintop removal mine.” The Spruce No. 1 mine in Logan County, West Virginia, would be a gigantic mountaintop removal mine that would bring great devastation to the region by destroying thousands of acres of forests, burying 7 miles of streams, and ending the way of life of many Appalachian families.

So how much coal is in the Appalachia? The Energy Information Administration has estimated that there are about 53 billion tons of coal reserves in the Appalachian Basin. Potentially we could be digging for that coal for the rest of this century. But that coal will come to us with great devastation. If you’d like to know more about the great social and environmental costs of mountaintop coal mining, you can check out this article, “Coal Controversy in Appalachia,” published in NASA’s Earth Observatory website.

On October 15, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson recommended the withdrawal of the Spruce No.1 mining permit. With climate deniers firmly placed in the 112th Congress, we can surmise safely that this fight is far from over.

To understand why Hansen is willing to risk his government job and his scientific credibility by getting arrested time and again, you simply have to take a look at the title of his article in late August in the Guardian: “Am I an activist for caring about my grandchildren’s future? I guess I am.”

We Must End Coal and Oil to Start Clean Energy

As I think about our inability so far to end our fossil-fuel based economy and start a clean-energy future, I think about the following words by T. S. Eliot from his poem, Little Gidding , which is part of his masterpiece Four Quartet :

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.

The beginning of coal and oil has been the beginning of the end of sustainable living on earth; to make an end for coal and oil would ensure a beginning for clean energy. But unless we make such an end, there’ll be no beginning for clean energy to take us back to sustainable living on earth.

Next year the First Family will be taking showers with water warmed by the mighty sun falling on the solar panels that will be installed on the roof of the White House. But such small symbolic action and other clean-energy initiatives will be meaningless if the five fossil fuel projects I mentioned take off happily during the 112th Congress.

We’ve burned coal and oil for more than hundred years that has resulted in the human-made climate change we’re dealing with right now. We cannot allow one more hundred years of the same. So we must stand up and STOP any maniacal plan that would set us on a path to ‘another one hundred years of fossil-digging in North America.’

Fighting these mega-scale projects may seem overwhelming for any individual, but here are a few things you can do this month:

Art -- Find out about 350 EARTH (November 20-28), the largest human aerial-art installation ever to fight climate change, and see how you can get involved.