Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Plunder on steroids

The Appalachians in the eastern US are a 480-million year old mountain range running north to south from the southern states through Canada, with a 2,184 mile hiking trail famous among long-distance hikers. Regrettably, the Appalachians have become the range most associated with a strip mining method called mountain top removal (MTR) which blasts entire mountain tops off using explosives in order to extract embedded coal seams. Five-hundred mountain tops & over 1,200 miles of streams have been destroyed so far. It’s called “strip mining on steroids”; it’s really plunder on steroids. The scramble for minerals & fossil fuel resources is driving a staggering increase in land grabs & reckless prospecting across Latin America, Asia, Africa bankrolled by foreign capital & now with the development of shale oil & gas “fracking” (a process linked to earthquakes which involves high-pressure injection of toxic chemicals), under North America & Europe as well. In the past decade, iron ore extraction is up by 180%, cobalt by 165%, lithium by 125%, & coal by 44% (despite international agreements to reduce carbon emissions to reverse climate change). This out of control plunder threatens every living thing. Beside heating up the planet, mining companies & investors are turning ecosystems into wastelands of deforestation, contaminated topsoil & waterways, & causing flooding, mudslides, earthquakes, tornados. Farmers & indigenous communities have been dispossessed, food production systems destroyed, biodiversity & wildlife habitats mown down. Millions of workers, including child workers, use toxic chemicals like mercury in the extractive process or spend hours in cramped rat holes digging out profit & death. Numerous studies show catastrophic health consequences for those who reside near mining facilities, including respiratory & digestive disorders, organ failure, bone damage, cancers. The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is just the tip of the ice berg but demonstrates for all to see what the media tries so hard to hide: the criminal irresponsibility & insanity of these companies. The oligarchs have proven their utter inability to steward this planet. Indigenous people have been in the forefront of the struggle against these mining operations around the world. Now, several environmental groups have called for a global moratorium on new, large-scale mining, extraction & prospecting. This photo is an MTR operation in the Appalachians, Wise County, Virginia, USA. Find a way to add your voice to opposing this human & environmental catastrophe. (Photo by Mario Tama)

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