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Fire in the Hole

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Author Topic: Fire in the Hole  (Read 153 times)
Lisa Wolfe
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« on: June 19, 2009, 12:00:17 am »

And despite a 1990s World Bank study that outlined measures to combat the fires, little has been done to address the problem in either China or India. Prakash and other experts blame bureaucracy, corruption and the sheer overwhelming scale of the problem. “It’s just crazy,” she says.

Mining is not the only human intensifier of the fires. In Indonesia, huge tracts of land once covered by rain forest— and underlain by near-surface coal—is fast being logged, then cleared for agriculture. The preferred method: fire. The practice has ignited perhaps 3,000 coal fires since 1982, destroying houses, schools and mosques. Heavy smoke carpets much of Southeast Asia, blocking out sunlight and causing crop failures as well as reducing visibility and, in at least one case, triggering an oil-tanker collision. The smoke is also implicated in an epidemic of asthma. On a smaller scale, a related phenomenon has occurred in the United States; near Glenwood Springs, Colorado, for example, an old coal mine has burned for the past 100 years. In the summer of 2002, the blaze ignited a forest fire that consumed 12,000 acres and 43 buildings. Putting it out cost $6.5 million. And the mine still burns.
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