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Global Environmental Issues

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Morgan Rouse

Geo 162 section 6

18, September 2011

Midterm Essays

3. Imagine that a town in Eastern Kentucky is being examined as a possible site for Mountaintop Removal (MTR) coal mining. What people or groups would have a stake in this process and what would their concerns be? How might groups work together?

If a town in Eastern Kentucky was being looked at for a future site as mountaintop removal, the people of that town, the people who the coal is distributed to and even the state of Kentucky itself would be greatly affected. Coal mining brings environmental, social and cultural impact to the surrounding community. Concern for the coal impact has four views; mining companies, Friends of Coal, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC), and coal communities.

The mining companies want the profit made by mountaintop removal. The mining companies can make a higher profit by mountaintop removal because it takes less human labor to remove mountains compared to other types of mining. According to Patty Amburgey of KFTC, "The strip mines contribute to thirty-two percent loss of mining jobs." The mining companies do not care about destruction of the forests they are prompted by greed. Friends of coal are troubled about keeping the jobs in the states. They also want to inform that coal is a necessity to keep our economy alive. "We have to let the folks in Washington, New York, Los Angeles and across this country know that West Virginia coal miners truly "keep their lights on" and without them they would either be sitting in the dark or watching their electric bills skyrocket" (Raney). However never on their site do they talk about any negative effects on mining. Not once did the site mention anything on mountaintop removal. This leaves me to believe they too, think mountaintop removal is concerning.

The Kentuckians for the Commonwealth would be afraid with the environmental impact that strip mining has on the area. "Without new environmental restrictions, mountaintop removal mining will destroy an additional 600 square miles of land and 1,000 miles of streams in the next decade. There is no evidence that native hardwood forests . . . will eventually re-colonize large mountaintop mine sites using current reclamation methods"(Amburgey). The Kentuckians for the Commonwealth just want a better quality of life. The coal community residents would mainly be concerned with safety that the mines do not bring. The blasting on the mountains has done some extensive damage to the nearby towns' homes and wells. Patty Amburgey also expresses her fears, "Blasting also sometimes sends "flyrock" off the permitted mining area into residential areas and onto public roads, creating dangerous conditions. One family used to receive a phone call warning them they had 10 minutes to get out of their house before the coal company set off their daily blast." Mountaintop removal is a big safety issue and in health as well.

Together the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and the locals of the town could petition the mining companies to at least enforce stricter safety rules. The mining companies can practice safer mining for themselves and the community. Also for the environment's sake, KFTC and the communities can protect the lands and water. Negotiation is a big thing here both parties can win in profit and environmental injustice.

4. Is biodiversity important and is it something that we should be working to protect? Write an essay that explains why biodiversity matters, how it is threatened by contemporary social and economic change, and why (or not) it is worth defending.

Biodiversity is one of the biggest issues facing our planet right now. A richness of biodiversity is the key to overcoming the largely unknown challenges that climate change will bring, changes compounded by the environmental weaknesses we have already caused. According to John Lloyd, "Biological diversity is of fundamental importance to the functioning of all natural and human-engineered ecosystems, and by extension to the ecosystem services that nature provides free of charge to human society. Living organisms play central roles in the cycles of major elements (carbon, nitrogen, and so on) and water in the environment, and diversity specifically is important in that these cycles require numerous interacting species." We need to put saving biodiversity on top three of our list of great priority.

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