Friday, April 22, 2005

If It Weren't for Coal . . .

. . . I certainly wouldn't be here. My family's from Eastern Kentucky, and several of them have worked in some capacity or other for the coal industry. No doubt this employment led to familial economic conditions such that my existence and that of other of my family members could be a possibility. In current ethical theory, some of the most persistent questions center around our duties to future generations. What obligations, if any, do we have to future generations to ensure that they are not made worse off by the decisions we make today? Even Bush the Younger has been overheard making references to responsibility for future generations (although typically in the context of his Social Security plan, a topic beyond the scope of this blog).

One thing that really complicates this issue is the fact that the choices we make today in large part determine who will comprise those future generations. Following a policy of depletion (which, make no mistake, we're doing) will ensure a different set of folks in the future than would be around were we to choose a policy of conservation. So, I can honestly say that I owe my existence (in part) to bad policy choice with regard to coal mining in Eastern Kentucky. SIGH.

Anyway, the real reason I started this thread was to introduce an excellent Salon article on one of the worst environmental disasters in US history: The Martin County Coal Mine slurry spill of 2000 in Inez, KY. You can read about this nastiness here.

I love Salon.

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