Last night I watched the movie Garbage with the Social Justice Community on campus. The film explores the environmental impact of all our various kinds of trash, while a family of five saves and weighs all its garbage for three months! You can learn more about the movie and the movement here.
There are a lot of memorable stories told in the movie. I didn't know that trash from Ontario was trucked to Michigan to landfills that are destroying what was once a beautiful, quiet community. I didn't know how devastating the run off from our roads and highways is - the equivalent of two Exxon-Valdez disasters. But more than anything, the stories about coal have stuck with me.
I've driven through West Virginia and I've seen the hilltops that have been eliminated from coal mining. I've voted against the building of new coal plants (the measure passed anyway.) And I've tried to reduce my own energy consumption with compact flourescent lightbulbs and by unplugging stuff when I'm not using it. What I didn't know was that coal dust covers entire towns near mines. And that children go to schools yards away from coal refineries and go home with headaches every single day. And what I still don't know is how to stop being complicit in this devastation. We have a lot of wind farms in California, but we also have a lot of coal plants. I use as much coal energy as anyone. My Dad's family is from Sweetwater, Tx where wind is becoming a more important industry than ranching. I never thought I'd want to live in Sweetwater, but now I kind of do, so that I could have a wind farm in my backyard. I can't really move to Sweetwater, though, and so I'm looking for other alternatives. We have to get off coal. It's destroying people's lives just so I can turn on the lights.