This is a picture of the mouth of a 7-year-old boy named Ryan Massey who has the misfortune of living in a coal mining area in West Virginia. In case you missed Sunday's New York Times article "Clean Water Laws Are Neglected, at a Cost in Suffering:"
[Ryan's] entire family tries to avoid any contact with the water. [His brother] has scabs on his arms, legs and chest where the bathwater — polluted with lead, nickel and other heavy metals — caused painful rashes. [Ryan's] teeth were capped to replace enamel that was eaten away.Neighbors apply special lotions after showering because their skin burns. Tests show that their tap water contains arsenic, barium, lead, manganese and other chemicals at concentrations federal regulators say could contribute to cancer and damage the kidneys and nervous system...
When Mrs. Hall-Massey [Ryan's mother] and 264 neighbors sued nine nearby coal companies, accusing them of putting dangerous waste into local water supplies, their lawyer did not have to look far for evidence. As required by state law, some of the companies had disclosed in reports to regulators that they were pumping into the ground illegal concentrations of chemicals — the same pollutants that flowed from residents’ taps.
Big Coal has been doing its best to try to convince the American people of its lie that coal can be burned cleanly into the atmosphere without causing carbon dioxide emissions and global warming. It's a lie.
And this story proves more than ever that we shouldn't believe the lie. If the coal industry won't even work to prevent the pollution of its neighbor's drinking water and keep it "clean," why should we believe a word it says about global warming?
If we can't trust the coal industry to protect our 7-year-olds, how much less can we trust it to protect the planet our children depend upon for their health, happiness and security?
If you want to help do something to stop global warming today, go to 1Sky.org's action page.
If you want to help do something to ensure good, clean drinking water, got to Food and Water Watch.
Colin Beavan (that's me!) is now leading a conversation about finding a happy, helpful life at Colinbeavan.com. If you want to know how people are breaking out and and finding authentic, meaningful lives that help our world, check it out the blog here and sign up to join the conversation here.