Paper versus Coal?

Please consider the environment before printing this email.


How many of us have this little icon of a road (or is a stream) and the pine tree as part of our email signature? Anybody know the origin of that icon?

Last fall, I taught a ‘paperless’ seminar, in that I did not print out any assignments and required that all student’s work to be submitted via email or the course website on moodle. (Okay, there was a required text book). Avoiding the use of paper and copiers seemed to be a no-brainer as a method to practice what I was preaching. Now a white paper by Don Carli has come out that compares the environmental impact of the energy needed by data farms to the embedded energy in paper and impact of clear cutting and the picture isn’t quite so clear. The reason is mountaintop removal by coal companies to fuel the power plants that power our gadgets and the web servers.

Mountaintop Removal Site in Pickering Knob, West Virginia

Again, this seems like one of those catch 22s where these is no good solution beyond ending literacy and returning to living in caves.

Biodiversity versus Coal Mines



Hobet Mine, Boone County, W.Va., superimposed over New York City.

I don’t often use my blog as a soapbox in support of any political causes. We MUST stop coal mining, and political action is one of the few tools available to the little folk. So please visit ilovemountains.org, sign their petition and find out if your electricity comes from coal mined by mountain top removal – then contact your utility company to share your opinion.

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One thought on “Paper versus Coal?

  1. I have always thought two things with regards to mountain-top (removal) mining.

    1) it has got to be seemingly one of the lasiest ways of mining. Plus it takes all the artisanry and daring/risk out of it.

    2) i always thought it was amazing (and says something about the ecological horrors) that Appalachian folk (who grew up as/around miners) get so riled up and actually start protesting agitating against the practice.

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