Saturday, October 13, 2012

Part 2-Mountain Top Removal: What is our response-ability?

“Think about it. Why have we developed ethics for homicide, suicide, and genocide, but none for biocide or geo-cide? So far, no one has been hauled into court for species extinction—the death of birth itself for millions of God’s precious and unique creatures. Earth and its integral functioning apparently have little claim upon us, despite our total dependence upon it and despite our origins as adam from ada (earth creatures from soil; Genesis 2:7).” Larry Rasmussen

In the US, about 50% of our electricity comes from coal. One of the ways coal is extracted is through Mountain Top Removal, a form of surface mining in which explosives, up to 3.5 million lbs daily, are used to blow up mountains, removing up to 1000 vertical feet, to get to the coal seam within.

And in a masterful use of doublespeak, the ‘overburden’ is dumped into valleys. Overburden in mining terms means the material that lies above an area of economic interest. In reality, it means everything on the mountain: trees (which guess what? ABSORB CARBON), grasses, flowers, wildlife and their habitats. 

PAUSE> Because I love words and contemplate their weight, I am saddened by the term 'overburden'. How did humanity stray so far from our soul satisfying awe and reverence of nature that the stunning Appalachian mountains- brimming with harmonious beauty and astounding biodiversity-are perceived as merely a hindrance to the black fossil matter below? To call what makes a mountain a mountain, 'overburden' is desecration.

CONTINUE>As you can freakin' imagine exploding mountains have disastrous ramifications. When explosives are detonated, communities suffer earthquake like damage: cracked foundations, walls and water wells. Fly rock (think boulders) rains down on people and their homes. Uprooting all that vegetation causes flash floods for those below. Discarding the mountain tops into the adjacent valleys devastates streams (think water source for millions), the ecosystems therein and whatever livelihood and recreation affiliated with them. 

Below is an 8 minute video detailing the practice. Here's a link to another.

As I've done research for this energy series, I've watched dozens of  videos on MTR. Each time, I couldn't help but think of this scene from LOTR:

Treebeard doesn't become engaged in the fight until he sees the sheer annihilation for himself. He anguishes over the loss of his Ent friends then in righteous indignation declares war on Saruman. As humans we have the gift and responsibility of compassion for beings other than ourselves. I don't have to be a mountain to advocate for mountains. Besides, that six degrees of separation thing works with nature too. My long scalding hot shower in Kansas City while all lights and appliances are humming is linked to the contamination of aquifers in Kentucky that's jeopardizing my own drinking water. My reliance on coal energy is also linked to the compromised vitality of people living in mining communities.

What will wake us up as Americans in the same way as Treebeard? When the 400 million year old Appalachian mountains are all completely, irrevocably leveled will we finally pull ourselves away from diversion X to muster change? Or are we waiting until every single person we know has asthma or cancer? 

What is my response-ability? Earth and its integral functioning do have claim upon me because of my total, humbling dependence upon it.  

The fictitious devastation in the film clip mirrors that which is wrecked by coal companies: monstrous beings (think machines 22 stories high, able to hold dozens of cars in  their buckets) work around the clock heedlessly consuming nature to fuel an insane and deadly pursuit. In our case we don't pursue the ring that rules them all. 

We pursue the American Dream.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

okra interlude

Okra is beautiful. First a creamy white five petaled flower appears. Where the flower meets the stem, an okra pod begins to develop.The pod seems to gently twist the flower closed as it lengthens. Eventually the flower will wilt into a little cap on the end of the pod before falling off. What is the point of such a flower with its rich maroon interior?

I took a picture of an okra flower for this post yesterday. Today I realized it didn't do the plant justice and when I went to take another photo it was too late; the flower had already become a cap. They are only in full bloom a day or so. Again, what's the point of such artful ripening, particularly when it is so fleeting? Why does such creativity detail a vegetable?

Because its survival depends on such beauty. Would that we could understand ours does too.