When coal is mined today in some parts of Appalachia, it’s not by burly union men descending into black caves underground. The rock instead is obtained by a kind of landscape vampirism, a process with a simple and brutal name: mountaintop removal.
Mountaintop removal harms communities in special ways. Towns near removal sites are more likely to suffer from mudslides, dislodged boulders, and flash floods. Rocks and other debris, which the blasts can send flying, damage buildings and homes. Where forest used to be, there are ponds of coal slurry. Carcinogens and heavy metals fall into headwater streams, poisoning the water supply. And the environmental damage harms tourism and other local businesses: In Kentucky alone, almost 4,000 miles of streams have been polluted, damaged, or destroyed by mountaintop mining.
Coal has high costs beyond the reach of mountaintop-removal sites. The people who live in Appalachia pay for their community’s resource curse with their bodies. After miners retire, they—and others who worked near coal—suffer black lung, lung cancer, and other terminal diseases at elevated rates.
Coal takes a toll on even those who never descend into a mine: “All-cause mortality rates, lung cancer mortality rates, and mortality with heart, respiratory, and kidney disease were highest in heavy coal mining areas of Appalachia, less so in light coal mining areas, lesser still in non-coal mining areas in Appalachia, and lowest in non-coal mining areas outside of Appalachia,” wrote the authors.
The study estimated the full public-health cost of coal, in Appalachia alone, at $74.6 billion.
Currently in the flood waters in Boulder, Colorado. I know this doesn’t seem like much but you have to realize that we live in a DESERT. The creek by my house has now turned into a RIVER. Rain isn’t supposed to stop until Saturday morning. I ask that everyone send out their best wishes to everyone in Colorado. We need it.
Our pool table and surrounding basement turned into a literal pool this morning due to the flood waters here in Boulder. It’s getting real out there… And it’s not over yet. Lets hope it doesn’t get worse tonight. Keep NoCo in your thoughts folks, all our rivers are flooding and there is potential for some big dams to breach. Not psyched.
Huge thanks to our mop-up crew for coming to the rescue and special thanks to Peter Lee and Matt Tschol for bringing the pumps!!! We would be straight-up drowning without these things.
If you go to CU Boulder and want to collaborate let me know! This is the only song I’ve ever recorded, but it’s not the genre of music I see myself creating. Just a sample of my voice. I love Cherub and I love Alt-J. I know tons of people here want to be producers so i’ll sing over any of your beats, I’m a sub par writer though. lets do dis