Mommas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Miners

I wonder what the overall human cost of coal mining is, just in terms injuries and diseases suffered by the miners themselves.  The overall health impacts of coal burning and pollution is another story, but I’m just thinking about mining itself.  It’s the second most dangerous job in America, the first being drumming for Spinal Tap, though technically you could consider that an English job.  In China, between the years 2000 and 2005, over 36,000 coal miners diedRead that again.  And those are just the “official” statistics.

I don’t think the world is ready to switch away from coal, obviously.  And clearly, the environmental costs of burning and mining coal are probably the heaviest weight on the scale in favor of reducing our dependence on coal.  But damn a lot of people get hurt and die getting that shit out of the ground.  Shouldn’t that at least be a part of the discussion of reasons to back away from coal?

But I suppose it’s pretty much exclusively poor, uneducated and powerless people down in those mines anyway.  So who gives a fuck?

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6 Responses to Mommas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Miners

  1. Katy says:

    Sadly, what usually happens is that Americans get so tired of seeing their citizens and environment damaged, they regulate it out of existence and then it happens in other countries. Out of sight, out of mind. We don’t use less coal, we just get it from other places. And, as you pointed out, imagine how well the Chinese will handle the safety and environmental aspects of coal mining. Jesus, they can’t even make children’s toys or pet foods, and the engineering and safety challenges there are substantially less.

    I don’t like oil drilling, either, but sometimes I think it would be better if we just did it here, where at least it is regulated.

  2. Out of sight, out of mind, but very much in budget. We talk big about increasing worker and environmental protections, but we also vote with our pocketbook. We live on the backs of others; the immigration firebreathers are well aware of that fact, they just don’t want to have to see or hear (speak Spanish) the backs we live on.

  3. kelly says:

    Its an ugly industry, yet provides the bulk of our electricity. You would think that the ‘most essential’ commodities would be the most refined and improved. If I can trust wikipedia, there are 4000 new cases of black lung every year in the US (4% of the workforce). Could you imagine if every year 4 out of 100 people in your office came down with a life threatening illness from work? Makes carpal tunnel related injuries seem silly.

  4. Jim says:

    Those China statistics are mindblowing. It’s somewhat grotesque that the media is going apeshit over this Utah business–which is self-evidently a terrible tragedy–while this China accident, which killed nearly 200 people, gets ignored.

  5. brent says:

    katy, i’m not sure that the regulations in the u.s. are causing us to import coal from china. the u.s. only imports 4% of it’s coal from overseas markets, and most of that is for power plants on the east coast and gulf coast–that coal is coming mainly south america and the carribean. the main draw for coal imports is regulation–clean air regulations (not mine safety regulations) have made low sulfur coal from the carribean more valuable.

  6. How bad would it suck to live in a paradise like the Caribbean, only to have to work in a coal mine?

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