In the unlikely event that this blog gets picked up by unfriendly forces, meaning anyone besides my friends and Twitter buddies, I want to make a full disclosure that I am directly tied to the coal industry. I probably don’t need to disclose that because advocating for nuclear energy and climate-change action is basically joining the war on coal and directly going against the financial interests of one side of my family.
We aren’t coal barons or anything but we’ve owned land in Eastern Kentucky for probably a hundred years or more and this land is leased to mining companies. Since I inherited my little chunk, there hasn’t been much mining action because the coal industry is effectively dead or dying in that part of the country.
I hope I’m never faced with the ethical dilemma of what to do if there is suddenly a turnaround for Kentucky coal. A turnaround would mean that we’ve slid backwards on the climate (and probably elected stupid Donald Trump) but I will admit that there is a part of me that finds it hard to wish against a turnaround because I know how economically devastating the mining stoppage has been to the people of Eastern Kentucky. I’ve never been there but that’s where my family originated, where my dad spent summers, and where my relatives are buried so I feel emotionally connected to them. (Except for Kim Davis. I don’t feel connected to her at all.) As the coal industry dies, I hope we remember that it’s made up of human beings who are just trying to feed their families. We like the good vs. evil narrative but reality is never that simple. These are human beings who deserve to be a part of the global goals on poverty.
I’ll also be faced with what to do with any money I receive as the result of mining. I love my family so I would never do anything to hurt them plus they are my last connection to my dad. (My conservative dad would have been just as annoyed at me as my liberal mom.) I’m not the type to throw myself in front of a dump truck of coal in protest so nobody is ever going to write a book about my bravery. If I ever receive any money, I’ll upgrade my WordPress blog and donate the rest to a local hospice organization. How’s that for a rallying cry? I’m sure Big Coal is terrified of a mom with a PREMIUM template.
I wanted to put this out there in order to be transparent and to go ahead and call myself a hypocrite before anyone else does. (I own an SUV as well so I really suck.) I also want to make the point that any real advances on climate-change are going to be driven by ordinary people (voters) with conflicted, messy lives. Most of us aren’t lifetime environmentalists with spotless eco-track records and few of us can say that we haven’t benefited from industrialization and fossil fuels. That doesn’t mean we don’t belong in the conversation and that we shouldn’t fully participate. Nothing will ever move forward if we don’t.
[This post started out as another story about how breaking ranks from my family’s ideology is a bit difficult which then turned into how this Thanksgiving could be interesting. You know…”Hey! I’m trying to kill your livelihood by shutting down coal and by the way, these organic vegetables aren’t actually pesticide-free.” I decided nobody needs that story but that I still like this sad, little turkey so I kept him.]