Monday, September 25, 2017

This Former Coal Miner’s Perspective on Climate Change

The world isn’t too big for us to screw up.

Coal plant (Credit: Nick Mullins) Click to Enlarge.
I do not subscribe to the labels being thrown out these days.  I do not consider myself an environmentalist, a liberal, nor do I consider myself a conservative either.  I am an Appalachian family man who cares about his kids more than the coal companies do.

I’m not naive enough to believe that companies who make a profit extracting and selling coal, oil, or natural gas, are telling us the truth.  Instead, they stretch the truth beyond its limits to protect their investments and bottom lines.  We see it every day, and miner’s face it when they are injured and seek compensation to continue feeding their families.

Being Appalachian, I also know that many politicians and charitable organizations who have come to “help” us over the years have used our poverty and suffering to gain votes and donations.  It is a problem that continues to occur, and after nearly a century’s worth of exploitation from outside entities, it is no wonder we have trust issues.

People are just trying to survive day to day, and when you are just trying to survive, it is difficult to see issues as more than black and white.  We don’t have time to ask questions and research answers outside of the information we receive from the most influential people in our lives—friends, family, and sadly, employers.

When it comes to climate change, people rationalize their opinions based on how it affects them.  For those of us in Appalachia, the way climate change is affecting us is almost always perceived through the “War on Coal.”  Surprisingly, no one seems keen enough to try to navigate around that communications framework with any amount of credibility.

Have humans caused climate change?

Yes.  As coal miners, we should know this having seen so much coal leave our mountains.  We should also know that we aren’t the ones to blame.  We only mined the coal, and often at great costs to our health.  The only reason our ancestors mined coal was because outside companies swindled away our mineral rights and left us little economic choice.  The only reason we continue to mine coal is because of the economic demand for cheap energy and the powerful corporate interests who seek to make a profit maintaining that supply.  For them, climate change is bad for business, and they ensure we bare the brunt of any market changes to that effect.

Read more at This Former Coal Miner’s Perspective on Climate Change

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