On Dethroning King Coal

I’ve been reading and thinking a lot lately, having come from ground zero, about coal. It got us where we are today. It can’t carry us where we need to be tomorrow.

First, the practice of getting it that rapes landscapes and communities and endangers the health of living things must stop. Mountain Top Removal must not be allowed to be the source for the proposed 100 to more than 1000 new coal-fired sources of the “cheap” electricity to which we’ve become accustomed. Coal has never been cheap, it will never be clean. And turning it into liquid is NOT the answer.

We are the problem, and it’s getting harder and harder to claim ignorance. I want to give you and me one less excuse.

Kilowatt Ours. Read about the movie and the cause that motivated it and the personal and community actions that can come from it. Make a donation and get the DVD. Or find it being shown locally in your area. See below for one such showing near Floyd.

NOV 13, ROANOKE, VA. Greene United Memorial Methodist Church. 11am — 1:00pm

Mountaintop Removal Mining (MTR) and other forms of surface mining only provide an average of 4-5% of  the  nation’s  coal energy. With energy conservation alone, we could save an average of 20% of our current energy demands. from Mountain Justice Summer Newsletter (pdf)

Share this with your friends!

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. You are so right!

    I would add to your recommendation to also see the movie “An Inconvenient Truth” by Al Gore. Or get the DVD from http://www.Amazon.com

    And we can all help in so many little ways. Change your light bulbs to compact florescent. They cost more to buy, BUT they last many times longer, and they burn less energy. If we all would just start buying those funny looking curly Energy Star bulbs, we’d save both money and energy. I can’t give you the details, but the savings over time is staggering, just by changing light bulbs!

    Also unplug chargers when not in use. A charger left plugged in is still draining energy, even when you’re not using it. Turn of power strips, when possible and drive 5 miles slower than you usually do.

    Things we can all do that really doesn’t cause us much effort at all! BUT WE MUST!!!

    Thank you Fred, for taking up the cause!

  2. What’s being done to WVA and the people who live there is a crime. I didn’t know just how bad it has gotten, until I read the Mountain Justice Summer Newsletter. What a shame!

    I hope people will start paying more attention and speaking out.

    Email your US Congressperson http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW.shtml

    and Senator http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senator_cfm.cfm

    and other state’s like KY, TN, Congresspeople and Senators. Demand an end to the rape of our country, better regulations, and more research into alternative energy!

    The cry from the people has to be heard loud and clear, to make things change.

  3. heart-breaking…thanks for continuing to share about this. i think people are clueless as to what is being done to our mountains down here. we need to continue to spread the word…..

  4. I wouldn’t want an MTR project in my backyard. Having said that, something doesn’t balance. It’s the comment that renewables, specifically wind, could meet 20% of our current energy demand.

    This US Energy Information Administration does not show renewable projections anywhere out of the single digits through the year 2020. This begs questions such as at what cost could we get renewables higher, how long would it take to implement that type of rebalancing, and given that our demand keeps growing, are renewables destined to perpetually produce only single-digit percent contributions to our energy supplies?

    I think the solution has to involve more nuclear production. It’s the only source that has lagged production growth of the other sources. Nuclear plants are expensive to build, take a long time to come online, and propose risks such as 3-Mile Island, Chernobyl, and the latest incident in Japan, but we really don’t have a choice at this point.

    And I guess it’s a whole other can of worms to argue for population growth limits. Or maybe a virus will slow down our current path. Think how host-rich our 6Billion+ human world is.