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Literary Review of The Editorial Piece, Something's Rising on The Dangers of Coal Mining

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The article, Something’s Rising, talks about the negative effects of coal mining. Coal is a fuel that is primarily used for electricity and heat across the world. The market for coal in general is a standard supply and demand curve as seen in Graph 1 attached. The market equilibrium maximizes consumer surplus plus producer surplus. The market for coal is elastic, because although the need for coal is strong, there are substitutes like gas, burning oil and kerosene that can be used. However, this is inefficient because it excludes the social costs.

The market for the coal workers is different from the market for coal in general because it includes the social cost on the workers, as seen in Graph 2 attached. In this graph, there is a shift in the supply curve because of the added external costs on society. Therefore, the supply plus the external costs (social costs) shift the curve up and to the left. Because of this shift, there is a change in the equilibrium. With the graph for the market of coal in general, it did not include the social costs so it was inefficient, however with the social costs included in the market for coal workers, it is efficient. The shift in the supply curve creates an efficient equilibrium price and efficient equilibrium quantity. (All of this can be seen on Graph 2). The equilibrium maximizes the total gain to society, when the social cost is included. The equilibrium quantity is greater than the efficient equilibrium quantity, which translates to the total cost being greater than the total benefit, which is clearly bad. Therefore, the consumption of coal actually causes problems to society.

The reason that focusing on the external costs is important, especially in this instance with coal, is because it affects the social outcome. For instance, when the social cost is low, people who need money will work. However, when the social cost is higher, people may need to reconsider whether the negative externalities outweigh the need for money or not. However, it is also important to look at the effects of stopping the mountaintop removal coal mining. If this type of mining were stopped, there would be a decrease in supply and quantity, which is not good from a business standpoint. When looking at the effect on the market for coal workers, although the quantity and supply decreases, there is also a decrease in the social cost. For the individual worker, this is bad because people may lose their jobs, and they need them for money to support themselves and their families, however for society as a whole, a decrease in social costs is beneficial.

In the reading, there was mention of a man named Nathan Hall. Nathan Hall was able to describe first hand examples of some of the negative externalities on this type of coal mining. He stated, “There’s a lot of time I was put in dangerous situations.” (210). Another man in the article, Larry Bush, retells an account about a three year-old boy named Jeremy Davidson, who was killed when a boulder weighing half a ton crashed through his trailer and through Jeremy’s bed. Not only is this type of mining dangerous for people, it is also extremely destructive to the environment. Bush uses the phrase “daily rape” to explain the destruction to the mountains. There is also the issue of how this type of mining affects the air quality in the surrounding areas of the mines. Hall recounts that, “if you look at all the thousands of acres of land that have been stripped, a fraction of a percent of that land actually has something economically productive on it.” (213) Therefore, not only is this type of mining destroying lives and the environment, it may not even be the most effective way of gaining the resources needed. Both Hall and Bush illustrate how the negative externalities may, for many, outweigh the total cost of producing coal. Yet, there are others that find the total cost of producing coal actually outweighing the negative externalities. According to the petition letter in Appendix A, this type of coal mining provides jobs to many people who are in need of any type of work. It also states that on top of providing jobs, that coal produces dependable electricity. Although there are substitutes, many would claim that coal is the ideal good to produce for electricity. Therefore, for this group of people, producing coal has benefits that outweigh the negative social costs of society. Overall, it is important emphasize that although there are a few positives from coal mining this way, the negative externalities are still prevalent and need to be incorporated into the market.

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Literary Review of the Editorial Piece, Something’s Rising on the Dangers of Coal Mining. (2019, April 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 3, 2021, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/literary-review-of-the-editorial-piece-somethings-rising-on-the-dangers-of-coal-mining/
“Literary Review of the Editorial Piece, Something’s Rising on the Dangers of Coal Mining.” GradesFixer, 26 Apr. 2019, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/literary-review-of-the-editorial-piece-somethings-rising-on-the-dangers-of-coal-mining/
Literary Review of the Editorial Piece, Something’s Rising on the Dangers of Coal Mining. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/literary-review-of-the-editorial-piece-somethings-rising-on-the-dangers-of-coal-mining/> [Accessed 3 Dec. 2021].
Literary Review of the Editorial Piece, Something’s Rising on the Dangers of Coal Mining [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Apr 26 [cited 2021 Dec 3]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/literary-review-of-the-editorial-piece-somethings-rising-on-the-dangers-of-coal-mining/
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