Friday, May 26, 2006

Birth of an Idea for a Film

A friend of mine had brought me to Kentucky to show me what he called "an atrocity of industry." It's amazing, and quite disturbing. Imagine flying in a helicopter through the verdant valleys of the tightly-rippled Appalachian mountains. The variety of hardwood trees and rich undergrowth is unparalleled anywhere outside of the tropical rainforest. With the window open, the smells of earth permeate the air and you can understand why the "hillbillies" of yore, who were planning to travel beyond the mountains, chose to stay.

The copter flies up through the valley and, as the valley becomes thinner, has to climb. But as the propellered bird swoops above the highest trees, what unfolds before your eyes is a vast lunar landscape as far as the eyes can see. This is a mountaintop-removal coal mining site, where 600 acres of pristine forest have been not only denuded, but leveled. It is going on throughout the coal mining regions of Appalachia, to the tune of at least 600 THOUSAND ACRES so far, and accelerating. These sites can be seen from outer space. Go to GoogleEarth, look at southern West Virginia and South East Kentucky and you will easily find them - and who knows how old those images are.

More later on what mountain-top removal is, why we need so much coal, and the host of environmental and human impacts of this and all forms of coal mining and combustion.

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