Fostering Ecological Hope
Today from Margaret Swedish:
[Action ends: see below for update]
For four days, Wendell Berry and 13 others have been holed up in the Frankfort office of KY Gov. Steve Beshear demanding an end to mountaintop removal coal mining (MTR). They refuse to leave until he commits to ending the practice of blasting mountains away to get to the coal. Arrest is likely at some point. [See this article by Chris Hedges]
Writers and other cultural workers, along with various environmental leaders, are rallying behind Berry and the others seeking to apply more pressure on the coal industry and on the politicians whose campaigns they lavishly support to end a practice that is one of the most destructive on the planet.
“I can think of no more appropriate action to be taking on Valentine’s Day than what Wendell Berry and his fellow Kentuckians are doing: taking a stand from one’s heart. Mountaintop removal is an act of aggression. Civil disobedience is an act of love. We are right there with them in solidarity and support.” Terry Tempest Williams (The Open Space of Democracy).
Some 500 mountaintops in the Appalachian Mountains have already been blown to bits and thousands of miles of streams, rivers, and valleys contaminated by the dumping of the toxic waste into them. Groundwater and local wells have also been contaminated and cancers and other diseases are on the rise in the communities, most of them poor, that rely on them for drinking and bathing. Surface mining for coal has become more prevalent in recent decades because it is cost effective for the coal companies, requiring far fewer workers and quicker ways to get at the coal seams. Instead of digging tunnels and paying workers to go into them to remove the coal, they simply blast off the surface of the earth to expose the seams.
Readers of this blog know that MTR is an especially egregious offense to us, a perfect manifestation of all that is wrong with industrial society and the values that support it. It is violence against eco-communities on a grand scale, it is nothing less than murder and massacre of nature and it living systems. It is expression of the hubris and greed of human beings and often of a religiosity that believes that God has actually ordained this role for us – to tear apart, dominate, and subdue nature for our human benefit.
As if we are not part of nature and completely embedded within it. As if we can destroy nature without destroying ourselves.
The video embedded here accompanied the Chris Hedges TruthDig article at the link above. We place it here it here as a way of helping to share more widely Wendell Berry’s prophetic voice, to give reason for the action he took over this weekend, to light a fire under more people to wake them from their passivity or resignation or disbelief before this challenge regarding our energy sources, taking seriously what is implied here –
that it is better to have our lives disrupted by the impacts of stopping these practices (higher energy prices, lower standard of living for the affluent and middle class, simpler lives, the end of shopping malls) then to continue to destroy everything that makes this planet beautiful and a place of welcome, a home, for the human species and all those other species with whom we share it.
I watched it alone here at my computer and still had a hard time not standing up and cheering out loud. It is a voice we need to hear, an urgent voice.
That’s us, right? Voices becoming more and more urgent with every passing day because the destruction is becoming so vast, so irreversible, so dangerous that we are nearing multiple tipping points past which the unraveling begins to speed ahead all on its own, beyond our capacity to slow or halt it.
If you go to our ‘We Can Change the World‘ page, you will find links to some of our favorite organizations in the Appalachian region working to stop MTR coal mining. I can only urge once again that we all become more active in the effort to stop destroying the earth for the sake of our voracious, unsustainable, seemingly insatiable greed for fossil fueled energy.
LATEST NEWS FROM FRANKFORT: Berry and the others have ended their sit-in vowing to continue the pressure on the KY governor. Said Berry: “We came because the land, its forests, and its streams are being destroyed by the surface mining of coal, because the people are suffering intolerable harms to their homes, their health, and their communities.”
For updates on the I Love Mountains Day action, go here.