Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Warming Wednesdays: the consequences of coal

The consequences turn up not only in the excess carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, but also on the ground. In Navajo lands in northeastern Arizona:

"Coal has made us economically dependent on our own cultural destruction." -- Jihan Gearon, Black Mesa Water Coalition

Meet her in this short video.

Most U.S. history textbooks acknowledge the devastation of America’s indigenous peoples, the forced relocations and exploitation that left tribes corralled on remote reservations, mired in poverty. Few point out that the exploitation continues today.

On the sprawling Navajo Nation and the Hopi Reservation it surrounds, Peabody Western Coal Company routinely uproots families, locals say, in order to extract – by strip mining – 7.8 million tons of coal a year, coal that provides cheap electricity for much of the residential and business development in the Southwest. On Navajo and Hopi lands, however, thousands of poor families live without power or running water.

… “The fact is, their environment and public health are subsidizing much of the power in the Southwest,” said Daniel Higgins, an environmental scientist doing research at Arizona State University.

Higgins, who is not Navajo, has been stunned by the scope of the devastation as development in Sunbelt cities like Prescott, Phoenix and Tucson – powered by coal from lands of the Navajo and Hopi – continues to boom.

“These tribal lands have subsidized the massive postwar growth in this region that continues today,” he said.

Equal Voice

The Our Power Campaign of the Climate Alliance is about building fighting organizations in the places most damaged by resource extraction and where already poor people will suffer the heaviest, most immediate, burdens of global warming.

… we are creating transition pathways out of dirty energy, towards solutions that create meaningful work and livelihoods in the US. Communities are already beginning to implement real solutions to climate change that chart a path towards more democratic, ecologically rooted economies. Through the Our Power Campaign we are winning clean community power, zero waste, food sovereignty, public transit, housing for all, and restoration of ecosystems and watersheds, especially in regions disproportionately impacted by the deepening the economic and ecological crises.

That's ambitious and maybe reading a little too much like an application for a foundation grant for my taste. But if any people are really going to put themselves on the line to demand less destructive energy systems, it will be folks like these. Dirty coal is killing them.

1 comment:

Rain Trueax said...

It's like fracking. Not enough people care and all the coal/fracking people have to say is it makes us energy self-sufficient and people allow anything because they've been duped to believe solar and wind cannot do the same thing. It is a shame and I don't know solutions for it as so many of the politicians get paid off by donations, etc. to keep it happening. I wonder if it will only be recognized for what it is when it's too late. Visiting the Grand Canyon now versus years ago tells the story and it's not one with a happy ending as far as I can tell :(

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