“Moving Mountains” is a work by Erik Reece devoted to the exploitation of natural resources in the United States and related human casualties. The article is a part of the collection of essays published by Orion Magazine. In the source, Erik Reece provides a thorough discussion of the unwanted consequences of coal mining activities and links it to the work of activist groups in the United States.
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Reece pays focused attention to the process of coal extraction and reviews the role of Central Appalachia in the mining industry. In the first paragraph, he characterizes the industry with reference to statistical data. For instance, it is mentioned that in the United States, 100 tons of coal “are extracted every two seconds” (Reece). Almost three-fourths of all coal extracted in the country, the author notes, is a result of strip-mining activities.
At the same time, other approaches to mining are becoming more popular since they are easy to implement. The article introduces the reader to the history of coal mining in Appalachia by including information about the evolution of coal extraction technologies. Another topic touched upon in the first half of the text is the situation with employment in the region. Employment opportunities for coal miners, the author notes, have reduced by more than a half in the last decade (Reece). Reece links the current situation with jobs to the recent technological advances contributing to the transformation of mining and the quickening of operations.
The author proceeds from the presentation of the key trends in coal mining to the discussion of their outcomes that impact both ecological situation and people’s health. Among the consequences of coal mining activities, he lists a variety of current ecological problems ranging from the gradual destruction of forests to the increasing frequency of mudslides. Discussing the health outcomes of living in coal mining regions, the author focuses on the so-called blue baby syndrome – a condition that affects children and is manifested in breathing problems, digestive disturbances, vomiting, and nausea. In a long-term perspective, the mentioned syndrome increases the risks of kidney failure, bone destruction, and cancers of the gastrointestinal tract.
Apart from listing the key health issues associated with coal extraction, the author illustrates the threats that it has for people with the help of specific examples. Thus, he reviews the case of people living in McRoberts flushed out of their houses due to massive flooding in 2002 (Reece). Other examples include the case of Debra Burke, a woman from McRoberts who committed suicide some time after her house was destroyed. In addition to these controversial cases, the author introduces the history of activist movements in the United States.
For instance, after the death of Jeremy Davidson, a child who was unintentionally killed with a heavy mine boulder, the “Mountain Justice Summer Movement” was created (Reece). However, it was not the only case of death related to coal mining operations and their safety – for instance, in the 1970s, the collapse of an impoundment dam in West Virginia claimed the lives of more than one hundred people (Reece). Discussing these and similar cases, the author explains the problems of social justice and activism related to resource exploitation.
To sum it up, the source presents a thorough review of threats associated with the extraction of coal and illustrates the importance of safety in the extraction of natural resources. Finally, to contribute to the class discussion of the source, the following questions can be proposed: What problems with resource exploitation lead to disasters? What are the key threats of surface mining? What does the author think about activism?
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Reece, Erik. “Moving Mountains.” Orion Magazine, n.d. Web.