25 June 2009



On Tuesday, thirty people were arrested outside of Charleston, WV for protesting mountain-top removal mining. In the American media, such protestors are portrayed as fringe elements of society, vocificating against some arcane issue of little interest or importance. This is so far from reality, it is laughable. One of those arrested was James Hansen, the most knowledgeable man in the world on climate change issues. He is the NASA scientist who, in the 70s, predicted the climate situations that are occurring today, and his predictions for tomorrow are frightening. Dr. Hansen has lost faith in the will of our government to address the issue and has decided his only recourse is to truck his 89-year-old carcass out to be arrested and face the violence of the bumpkin miners who live in terror of losing the few jobs that big coal still provides. Not only are these “protestors” standing on the same philosophical and ideological grounds as those that founded our country, and not only are they the among the few that are looking out for the future of your children, but they are patriots in anther way. So much of what we are as a country and a people is defined by our natural heritage; one can hardly hum the bars of a patriotic song without it bringing to mind the shining seas or waves of grass or mountain home. But these for-profit industries are allowed to despoil that heritage, not to mention the resources our children will need for their survival. Can we pay attention? Most of us live near the coast; if we don’t change our behavior, our homes will be under water. And more alarming, all those folks who are crowded into coastal areas in third world countries will come swarming to us in the “developed world” looking to be fed.

We are sliding down into a crisis, and we are worried about the stock market? This stuff is real, which is why one of the most knowledgeable and intelligent scientists in the world is willing to get himself to WV and get in harm’s way to draw attention to this issue.

Mountain-top removal is the practice of blowing the top off of the mountain, dumping the blasted earth into the adjacent valley, taking the coal, and planting grass seed, and repeat.

It is the first step in the lengthy trail of devastation caused by the use of coal as a power source. Let’s turn off the lights and pray for Dr. Hansen.

This is an image of an MTR excavation in West Virginia, not far from the location of the protest.

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