The Appalachian Region report
The 2010 United States Census puts the population of the Appalachian region at 25million individuals. The cultural region of Appalachian entails the southern and central portions of the range. The region is characterized by a mountainous geography that is rich in unique culture and biodiversity, the mountains can be separated along ecological and geographic lines into Central, Southern, and Northern. The Southern and Central regions and associated landforms are the central point of the Appalachian Landscape Conservation Cooperative, stretching to Alabama from New York ("Appalachian Mountains | Definition, Map, History, & Facts", 2018). The area’s diverse topography is characterized by steep slopes, broad bridges, long deep gorges, and wide intermountain valleys ("A Southern Appalachian Bibliography", 1976). The poor economic condition is a negative health determinant that should be addressed by stakeholders to save the lives of communities living in the region.
Several adverse conditions put the life of Appalachians at risk. The region heavily relies on the mining of coal as an economic activity (Armentrout, 1959). The reliance on the mineral in certain areas in the region constitutes a de facto policy that coal is mined since it is available and that there is a market for the substance (Hendryx & Ahern, 2009). On the other hand, the mining of coal through the processes of mountaintop removal has had several implications in the region that includes continuous threats to biodiversity and health complications to individuals living near the mining sites. The 13 states with 420 counties have various contrasting features ("The Appalachian Region - Appalachian Regional Commission," 2018). THE APPALACHIAN CULTURE The Appalachia people are considered to be different from the rest of the American population in almost all aspects, including their culture, kinship ties, their aspect of xenophobia which is absent in other cultures and their poverty levels which are observed to be on a different level in comparison with other communities or regions in the United States (Bell 2009).
The conspicuous characteristics of the Appalachian population are their tough-mindedness and introversion. The personality type of the people which includes toughness of the mind is linked to the conditions they have had to endure living in the mountains for a long time. The endurance required of people who reside far from civilization and access to appropriate infrastructure was the main contributing factor to their tough nature. Violence is among the ancient culture they held for a long time. The men believed in battering their wives as a sign of love and instilling discipline in them. Although the current generations of Appalachians have reduced their cases of violence owing to the continued civilization in the area, there are still a good number of inhabitants who preserve the values including violence.
The desperate state of the Appalachian values, created a picture in the rest of the nation, where the inhabitants of the area are associated with abject poverty, broken families consisting of women who take drugs and have no time for their children, men who batter their wives and families that generally love off of welfare (Tyrkus 1998). The combination of wanting kinship characteristics, poverty, introverted nature and xenophobic character of the Appalachians may be very well linked to the Appalachian people of the old age, but due to the current changes in the economic times, the people of the region have changed, along with their personalities and character. The primary goal of the commission was to support social and economic development in the Appalachian Region.
During that period, numerous changes were experienced, actions that proved that the region largely depended on coal mining. As conservation and environmental efforts increased between 1950 and 1960, a total of 640,000 individuals lost their coals and agricultural related jobs. The primary reason cited is that the industries in Appalachia were slowly switching from bituminous coal production to other cleaner reserves. The joblessness purge continued to expand the proceeding years, and between 1988 and 1998, 42,000 individuals also lost their jobs in the coal industry (Bollinger, Ziliak, & Troske, 2011). S employment niches because coal mining in Appalachia mostly relies on labor, more than in other regions in the nation (Deaton, & Niman, 2012). However, with the sharp fall in over the past six years, the Appalachian percentage of U. S coal jobs fell to 58% to in 2016, the lowest in over a decade.
Whilst the entire country experienced a 28% decline in employment in the coal industry, the Appalachian region alone experienced a massive 37% decline. Additionally, information from the U. The other factor that indicates the region’s dependency on coal is the national attention coal production has drawn since decline was experienced (Haenn & Harnish, 2016). Apart from the formation of the Appalachian Regional Commission, successive governments have set up institutions to oversee the welfare of the Appalachian region, considering its impact on the local economy. The Obama regime recognized the significant commercial problems facing the Appalachian people because of the evolving landscape of the energy sector and initiated the Partnership for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) scheme (Kahn, 2011). The agency sought to harness job opportunities in the surviving industries, explore alternative ways of leveraging other sources of production and furnish the community with necessary resources.
It is then evident that the government was aware that the Appalachian region was mostly over-dependent on coal production, and it was hurting them because of the global economic turmoil. Mountaintop removal (“MTR”) is among the various surface mechanisms used in coal mining, that has been predominantly utilized in the Appalachian Mountains. Despite the fact that MTR was known by 1960s, the method was not used in Appalachian coal mining until the 1990s, a factor that was evidenced when increased need for top-grade low-sulfur coal pushed the miners to consider more profitable and efficient strategies of coal extraction (Kaneva, 2018). Vast strips of moonscape plateau erupting from extensive coal mining from mountaintops have overshadowed the beauty of the region in recent years.
The implications of the mountain removal have seen the obliteration of more than 500 mountain peaks species, and another 2000 miles underway water loss fills during the mining process. Unsuccessful steps have been made to worsen such effects thus putting the life of the region’s ecosystem at risk (Kaneva, 2018). An estimate puts it that by 2007 more than 300 square miles cover of forest had been damaged due to MTR in the region. A second study done by the government that focuses on a region close to twelve million acres and goes ahead to encompass parts of Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Tennessee, indicated that approximately 7% of the forested study region may be impacted by mountaintop mining. Despite the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (“SMCRA”) that puts that after completion of mining activities, land be reclaimed and also taken back to its natural condition, wide scale tree planting has not been done.
Instead, the terrain, in case was replanted, has been replanted with numerous non-native species, that both easier and cheaper to grow (Kaneva, 2018). Trees are essential for minimizing soil erosion and eliminating carbon dioxide from the air, their destruction is catastrophic to the environment and could significantly impact the Appalachian region. The implications of such effects on a chain reaction are that birds that feed on fish will be affected and will face reproductive failure (Kaneva, 2018). Apart from problems that arise from continuous mining activities, human communities around the place frequently face the implications of mining accidents and flooding. Flooding is more devastating and more frequent following MTR operations, an aspect that can be explained by the fact that deforestation damages a natural absorptive blockade to excess water movement, burial of streams faces off natural drainage ways, while mine ponds are inadequately and frequently constructed, leading to run-off when it rains.
Improper construction of sedimentation sludge dams and ponds threatens to humans around the mining sites due to their toxic level of materials in these dams (Kaneva, 2018). Damages of underground waterways may lead to contamination of drinking water supplies and could have serious health effects. The current roles of environmentalism are being carried by environmental experts and goodwill ambassadors who believe that environmental preservation is an important aspect that should be upheld. Historically, Identification as a way of living became more difficult especially for the men in Central Appalachian, because many people within the community viewed mining of coal as their identity and their way of living. Men and women engaged in coal mining as a source of identity and pride for the community despite the fact that it polluted the environment.
Brown and Ferguson (1995) illustratrates that the main role of women activist was to serve as the main motivators for resistance and pushed for better use of environment. The women acted as a symbol of motherhood to the environmentalists (Deluca and Peeples, 2006) Women activism entailed performing other duties apart from the domestic roles, an aspect that was contrary to their tradition which required them to remain at home so as to perform motherly roles. The emergence of "masculinity in the community" crisis resulted in women's suffrage, its propagators emphasized for the closure of the women led frontiers at the exchange of male dominated professions (Rome 2006). SLOW VIOLENCE IN APPALACHIA The Appalachian region is under threat from human activities such as coal mining.
Rob Nixon describes ‘slow violence' as "violence that takes place gradually and also happens out of sight, violence characterized by the delayed destruction dispersed across space and time, it is attritional violence that is usually not perceived as violence at all. " According to Rob Nixon, it is a type of violence that is difficult to determine unless precise attention is paid to it. Its invisibility encourages those who perpetrate violence because it is not probable or very ascertainable to distinguish if such an act is involved in violence or not (Nixon, 2011). The implications of most of these activities are not seen at the moment that they are done. However, they gradually progress to become evident and hazardous to the environment. Environmental experts should be able to identify how to control destruction of nature to save the millions of aquatic, plant, and animal life in the Appalachian region to save the future generations.
The notion of visibility is very essential in determining the meaning of slow violence (Nixon, 2011). Aldo states that humans can only be ethical to something that they see. The reason behind environmental changes in the last century is in several parts of the world including the Appalachian mountainous region can be attributed to the fact that humans have consistently made interventions with the process of nature. The major environmental destructions in the Appalachian region can be attributed to coal mining and deforestation thus putting the environment at risk of several complications. Wealthy and heavily financed minors continue to invade some parts of the Appalachian region thus putting the lives of poor individuals living in the area at risk of health complications.
The ‘slow violence’ descriptions explain how injustices against the marginalized communities a concern should be so that it does not lead to several complications (Nixon, 2011). Human interruption in the Appalachian region through coal mining alters nature in some ways. The relationship between coal mining and global warming may be indirect, explanations of the process of coal mining and its effects on global warming reveal a slow violence type of destruction whose impacts continue to become more adverse a thus explaining the gradual violence that continues to destroy the Appalachian Mountains (Moellendorf, 2012). Inattention to calamities in several parts of the world including Appalachian can be considered to be slow and long lasting leading to creating of changes that may not be easy to reverse considering the deeply rooted deformations that occurred from the slow violence.
These calamities patiently dispense devastation while remaining outside flickering attention spans and outside the purview of spectacle managed corporate media. The insidious occurrence of slow violence can be attributed to the unequal attention paid to both specular and non-specular time. In an information technology advanced generation that venerates instant spectacle, the aspect of slow violence receives little attention (Wenzel, 2012). Slow violence occurs unnoticed, related to the Appalachian situation, the changes that have taken place in the region include replacement of forests with grass, certain species of plants and animals have occurred over time, and mostly unnoticed. The marginalization of some communities in the region makes it difficult for it to realize its objective of restoring the region to its former glory conditions.
Environmental activists should take the lead in emphasizing the need for ecological conservation. References A Southern Appalachian Bibliography: Guides To Appalachian Studies. Appalachian Heritage, 4(2), 24-43. E. "There ain't no bond in town like there used to be": The destruction of social capital in the West Virginia coalfields. Sociological Forum 24 (3): 631-57. Bell, Shannon Elizabeth. Our Roots Run Deep As Ironweed,. How big is big coal? Public perceptions of the coal industry’s economic impact in West Virginia. Organization & Environment, 25(4), 385-401. Bollinger, C. , Ziliak, J. P. An empirical examination of the relationship between mining employment and poverty in the Appalachian region. Applied Economics, 44(3), 303-312. Durlauf, S. N. Poverty traps and Appalachia. Kahn, M. Cities, economic development, and the role of place-based policies: Lessons for Appalachia.
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