Facing the Inevitable: The Culture of Coal

Topics: Coal Mining

One of the most controversial aspects of the United States’ economy is its progress toward sustainable and renewable sources of energy. This progress has been limited by cultures that remain attached to increasingly outdated energy sources. Scattered across West Virginia and Kentucky are hundreds of small towns sustained entirely by the coal industry. The majority of businesses and properties in these towns are owned by large coal companies, and the only major source of income is from coal mines. In short, the well-being of these towns reflects that of the coal industry (Hirsch, 2015).

As the United States advances toward sustainable energy, coal companies’ profits will likely be compromised, and such towns will suffer financial depletion. With their way of life threatened, residents of coal-centered communities have raised an outcry against the advent of renewable energy. This outcry has been answered through politics and has undermined America’s headway. The burning of coal is not sustainable and leads to climate change (Mallas, 2018).

Residents of coal towns argue on behalf of their decaying communities and the coal companies ruling their lives. However, as the adverse effects of climate change become increasingly clear and coal reserves begin to dry up, these towns will inescapably collapse. Efforts to revive them on the fallacious promise of sustainable coal are futile and counterproductive.

Coal is a non-renewable resource, so coal culture will inevitably fall apart shortly. Coal reserves are expected to run out completely by 2088, considering how much the world will use to compensate for a lack of oil and gas, which will run out even sooner (Roberts, 2017).

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The total collapse of coal culture in West Virginia and Kentucky will leave millions unemployed. If the United States begins the transition away from coal culture now, communities that currently mine coal will no longer be completely dependent on it. Their efforts can be diverted toward more practical energy options such as solar, hydroelectric, or wind power. In the end, however, this transition is unavoidable.

Coal-based culture is unhealthy for those involved in it, as well as for the environment. It is common knowledge that burning coal releases greenhouse gases and the surface mining of coal destroys ecosystems. Thus, towns built around coal mines tend to have poor air quality and limited biodiversity (Dontala, Reddy, & Vadde, 2015). Additionally, workers in coal mines are at increased risk of black lung disease, chronic pain, muscular tearing, and accidental injury. Not only can these conditions restrict productivity in coal-centered communities, but they can also lead to drug addiction. Chronic pain and personal injuries are often treated with opioid painkillers, upon which people can become dependent. As a result, the coal culture has become an unseen driving force behind the opioid epidemic that plagues the United States, especially in Appalachian areas (Addiction, 2018). In general, a variety of medical problems, not to mention environmental degradation, are present in coal-centered communities, so efforts to keep such communities alive will cost the health of millions of American citizens.

One may argue that the profession of coal mining is passed down through generations in these communities. Many residents mine coal simply because their father’s grandfather did, and some believe a mass transition toward a more contemporary industry is impossible. This belief may result, however, from the fact that people in these communities lack the education to pursue a field outside of coal, or simply because they never considered any other way to make a living (Mallas, 2011). As the national government began to take steps toward a society dominated by other fuel sources, residents of these communities grew dissatisfied. Their frustration with the changing world ultimately contributed, among other aspects, to the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, as he promised to return America to its former state. There is also the matter that many coal-centered communities are essentially owned by coal companies. The coal companies lobby the government to keep coal prominent to make money. Such actions slow down the government’s implementation of better resources (Mallas, 2011).

By simple logic, any reasonable economist will conclude that efforts to revive coal and the culture surrounding it are counterproductive. Coal is nonrenewable, residents of coal-mining towns suffer numerous health issues, and the promotion of coal-based power will eventually wreak havoc on the United States economy. To avoid these issues, citizens must remove leaders who are in the pockets of coal companies from office. From there, emphasis must be placed on educating residents of coal-centered towns about other professions, particularly those which contribute to more sustainable energy sources. However, one thing is for certain: if we do not take action to transition away from a culture that keeps coal in the limelight, the United States will suffer future economic and environmental shocks.

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Facing the Inevitable: The Culture of Coal. (2022, May 10). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/facing-the-inevitable-the-culture-of-coal/

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