Saturday, October 02, 2010

Lost Mountain

"a searing indictment of how a country's energy lust is ravaging the hills and hollows of Appalachia" - Publishers Weekly

Sometimes I wish we'd just run out of oil and get it over with. Not that I look forward to the upheaval, but at least I wouldn't have to get pissed off at people driving gas guzzling vehicles.

The problem is, we have plenty of coal left. It'll last many years after the oil runs out. And coal is ugly. Burning coal for energy is dirty and puts a lot of carbon into the atmosphere.

But Lost Mountain by Erik Reece is about another ugly side to coal - how we mine it. Specifically, the strip mining in the eastern United States, where they chew off mountains to get at the coal underneath, and dump the leftovers into the valleys. The mining companies are supposed to do "restoration" but the results are a pale ghost of the original forested mountains. These forests have some of the highest biodiversity in North America. Or should I say "had".

The mining destroys the forest and poisons the watersheds. And to add insult to injury the locals profit very little from it. A few mining companies make money but the locals stay some of the poorest in the USA.

But we all want electricity, and unfortunately, coal is one of the main ways we generate it.

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