October 2, 2013
Dr. Michael Hendryx Lecture
Previous to hearing Dr. Hendryx's lecture last week, I frankly didn't know much about mountaintop removal coal mining. My personal assumptions regarding the coal industry were fairly neutral. I knew that the industry had a relatively unfavorable effect on the environment and the man-made acceleration of climate change, yet I was unclear and indifferent as to the extent. My presumption was that these affects were less significant in reality than in our creative imaginations, and the benefits of this cheap form of power are indisputably clear. Nevertheless, after sitting in the auditorium last week and learning the cold truth, my perspectives were changed.
Dr. Michael Hendryx, in his Moving Mountains lecture, illuminated this unsettling reality of the mountaintop removal coal mining industry. One of the most permanent environmental effects includes the burial of over twelve hundred miles of rivers and streams, as the spoil from the mining is deposited in adjacent valleys.
This results in a complete change in the topography and landscape of miles of previously untouched Appalachian wilderness. It is difficult to even understand the actual magnitude of this fact without seeing some of the pictures taken before and after these mining projects have taken place.
The health affects that were listed were even more startling. Concluded from surveys conducted by the CDC and others conducted by Dr. Hendryx and his colleagues, it was found that lung-cancer, cardiopulmonary and kidney diseases, low birth rates, and birth defects are all much high in the areas of Appalachia were mountaintop mining occurs. These numbers have all been readjusted for all factors like age, income, smoking, etc. This is due to the fact that the coal dust particles are uncontained as in an underground mine, are can disperse freely...