Coal Mining Exposed
When 10,000 acres of a mountaintop is exploded into rubble in order to mine coal, the scale of destruction might not resonate with the average person. So the organizations Appalachian Voices and the Alliance of Appalachia turned to Google Earth.
For their project, National Memorial for the Mountains, the group superimposes mining sites onto satellites maps of U.S. cities. In this example, the Hobet mining complex in West Virginia is shown as a red imprint that covers most of Manhattan. From the air, scarred landscapes like this are unforgettable. Google Earth users can get a similar experience by seeing before and after overlays as well as interactive maps of mine sites."
Mountaintop removal uses explosives to access coal deposits, avoiding the need for underground workers while accelerating the mining process. It's irreversible, fills streams and valleys with rubble, pollutes water sources, and has been linked to health problems in local communities, according to Appalachian Voices. About 4 percent of the nation's energy comes from this coal, a figure the organization says could be replaced by renewable energy.