America's Red Mountains

In the early afternoon of Election Day 2008, I took a flight from the Northeast down to New Orleans, and crossed over the Appalachian Mountains in doing so. I noticed how my eyes at first saw the mountains as a colorless brown, but once I started to notice the vivid red color of the deciduous trees on the slopes, the color quickly spread across my field of vision. Some optical illusion had caused my brain to assume, from high above, that the mountains were dull and mineral, rather than covered with a remarkable kind of life.

Looking across the landscape, then, I began to notice something else. In many places, the autumn's red leaves were absent. In fact, entire mountains were absent, replaced the dusty tan or dingy grey of the soil and rocks below. These were the mountaintop removal coal mines - great pits where peaks once had been.

Looking at these open wounds upon the curving Earth, the thought came into my mind that I was looking at something like the scabs on the face of a methamphetamine addict who, obsessed with the search for quick bursts of energy, picks off pieces of his own skin to expose the lifeblood below.

Get specific. Read the latest about the dirty rock at our Coal News

Don't go to a dermatologist. Take a look for yourself at that Irregular Growth

Then do a more general self-exam at Irregular Times