How mountaintop mining affects life and landscape in West Virginia – PBS (2017)

Coal has been one of the work horses of power generation but its dominance is dwindling. In 2016 U.S. coal energy industry employed around 160,000 workers while solar energy production employed around 370,000.

Coal has been a massive contributor to the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere leading to mercury pollution with subsequent biomagnification throughout the food chain, ocean acidification and global warming. Some geologists propose that fossil fuel use including coal may be accepted as an indicator for the start of a new Human-dominated era called the Anthropocene.

After 200 years of relentless mining, coal in West Virginia’s mountains are depleted. Surface mining carries a huge cost: nothing less than mountains themselves. There are restoration efforts but the scale is incomparable to that of the damage caused. PBS science correspondent Miles O’Brien reports on how the Appalachian landscape is being fundamentally and irrevocably changed.

 

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