Recent history shows us that, for the sake of achieving a higher rate of economic development, humanity has consistently neglected the consequent environmental degradation.

As the dire state of our environment and the urgent need to protect it has gained greater attention the subject has grown increasingly controversial, both uniting nations in the shared experience of environmental damage and dividing them in how to deal with it.

In a five-part series that travels from the timber docks of China to the mountain ranges of America, Assignment Earth looks at just a handful of the many pressing issues confronting our fragile world.

Part Three

 Mountaintop removal is the latest mining practice

Appalachian Strip Mining

In the Appalachian mountains of the eastern United States, coal-mining families who have lived there for generations are now being driven out of their homes by the latest mining practice. Mountaintop removal literally slices off mountain peaks and dumps massive amounts of debris into the valleys below, causing flooding and contamination of streams by mine waste.

Aided by weakened environmental protections under the Bush administration, mining companies have expanded their operations, burying or damaging more than 1200 miles of streams and destroying 380,000 acres of forests.

Mining the mountains
Assignment Earth investigates what this practice is doing to Appalachian communities. We interview a wide range of local people and mining company officials and see what kind of damage is being caused to the landscape and what measures are being taken by companies to restore it.

We focus on several key personalities: a community leader opposed to mountaintop mining, an environmentalist challenging the government's roll-back of protections, a miner who earns a living removing the peaks, and a company executive who argues that coal production is essential for America's security and that the contoured peaks, after restoration, are much more useful than before.

A small stream, contaminated by the mining

This episode raises the questions: how much should we sacrifice in our search for energy and what price is too much to pay?

Part three of our five part series aired at the following times:

Saturday 26 May 2007 (21.30 GMT)
Sunday 27 May 2007 (02.00, 07.00,18:00 GMT)
Monday 28 May 2007 (00:00, 04.00, 11:00 GMT)
Tuesday 29 May 2007 (20.30 GMT)
Wednesday 30 May (02.00, 07.30 GMT)
Thursday 31 May  (05.30 GMT)
Friday 01 June (10.30 GMT)
Saturday 02 June 2007 (04.30, 08.30 GMT)

Watch Part One here:

Watch Part Two here:




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