Stripping the Earth for Coal

Imagine ripping out the top layers of your skin to extract a layer underneath.  That is essentially what strip mining does to the earth.  Strip mining is the process used to extract coal and other minerals that lay close to the surface, a process which is extremely harmful to the earth, which is why we need to move away from coal energy.

The Process:

First, all the flora on the land is bulldozed, and taken to a dumping pit along with the sandy soil under it. To reach the minerals underneath, little holes are drilled into the ground and filled with explosives. The broken land post-explosion is removed to reveal the mineral underneath. Trucks and other heavy machinery proceed to break the mineral into chunks and transport it away.  This process is repeated in the adjacent strips of land: this is why the process is known as strip mining.  The waste and dirt from each strip is used to fill up the next mined strip, so all the strips from which ore was extracted are re-filled with the rest of the land that was removed.

The Effect:

This process obviously destroys the land’s eco-system and fertility, but it has a number of other adverse effects as well.  The waste that is left on adjacent lands to the mining area erodes and contaminates the land around it, as well as the water.  Run-off water from these areas soaks into the ground, contaminating the ground-water that so many people use, and flows into streams, contaminating the wildlife’s water supply as well.  Wildlife is driven away by strip mining; the process leaves no resources for wildlife to reclaim their home and destroys important regions such as breeding grounds and migration paths.

Soil and the organic matter it contains are the sustenance of life on earth; this vital layer functions as the earth’s skin and is only 8 feet deep.  Industries such as strip mining devastate the thin layer that sustains all life.  These destructive processes need to be ended-why have we kept them in use?

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