Sacrifice Zones and Portable Climate

August 9th, 2019

How has the extraction of coal throughout Illinois changed the local landscapes and living conditions? A field trip to the Middle Fork of the Vermillion River examined both the intentional as well as unintended, or “feral,” consequences and responses to the practice of coal mining.

The Political Geology of Energy and Water in Central Illinois

“We may call it black diamonds. Every basket is power and civilization. For coal is a portable climate. It carries the heat of the tropics to Labrador and the polar circle; and it is the means of transporting itself whithersoever it is wanted. Watt and Stephenson whispered in the ear of mankind their secret, that a half-ounce of coal will draw two tons a mile, and coal carries coal, by rail and by boat, to make Canada as warm as Calcutta; and with its comfort brings its industrial power.”

—Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Conduct of Life, 1860