On January 2nd, 2006 an explosion kills 12 miners at the Sago mine in West Virginia. You can read about the rescue, the media and the aftermath at the wikipedia page.
Context: Coal mining is a dangerous business, though safer at present in the United States than it has been for a long-time, partly thanks to a much smaller workforce. We latte-drinking liberals in big cities, distant from the point of extraction and production, forget that, very very easily.
Mining disasters are common in other countries, not least in China, Russia, Turkey. The world wants energy…
Meanwhile, there are slower, more insidious dangers lurking. It isn’t just the people who go to work one day and don’t come home who matter. Sadly though, the state appears reluctant to fulfil its obligations.
In 2009, the NSW state government agreed to install 14 monitors to check dust levels, but only three of them are designed to measure the tiniest (2.5 micron) and most dangerous particles. It is worse in Queensland, where only two of the 29 dust monitors are installed by the Queensland government are in mining districts, the rest being in major towns. The one monitor in a mining area operates in Moranbah in the Bowen Basin, but its results are not publicly released.
(Pearse et al.,2013:28)
And don’t even start me on the air quality in Beijing, as tweeted by the US embassy…
Pearse, G, McKnight, D. and Burton, B. (2013). Big Coal: Australia’s Dirtiest Habit. Sydney: NewSouth.
See also: Big Coal: The Dirty Secret behind America’s Energy Future by Jeff Goodell, Coal: A Human History by Barbara Freese
Other things that happened on this day:
1999 – A brutal snowstorm smashes into the Midwestern United States, causing 14 inches (359 mm) of snow in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and 19 inches (487 mm) in Chicago, Illinois, where temperatures plunge to -13 °F (-25 °C); 68 deaths are reported.