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The Rise and Fall of Coal in America


By Katie O'Reilly

Two years ago—long before coal became one of the most dominant and controversial symbols of the 2016 presidential election—Bloomberg Philanthropies approached production company RadicalMedia with the idea of creating a documentary exploring the U.S. coal mining industry. Last spring, they brought on Emmy-nominated director Michael Bonfiglio, tasked with forging a compelling story out of the multitudes of facts, statistics and narratives underlying the declining industry.

The production team spent the next year traveling from Appalachia to the West's Powder River Basin, and beyond, to mine coal's effects on our economy, health and climate. They wrapped From the Ashes just one week before its April 26 world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, where it was introduced by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg—a longtime supporter of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign. The film depicts Americans across the country as they wrestle with the legacy of the coal industry, its future under the Trump administration, and the direction of U.S. energy policy.

Right before the film's June 2 premiere in New York and California, Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate accord. So, the team tweaked the film accordingly. On June 25, at 9/8 p.m., the final version will air globally on National Geographic; audiences in 171 countries will be privy to this intimate glimpse into the cultural zeitgeist that is coal.

From the Ashes highlights the complexity of coal by shedding light on the lived experiences of those closest to it. Viewers meet the spouse of a laid-off coal worker in West Virginia who, while far from identifying as a leftie treehugger, knows that the drinking water in her home isn't safe, as mountaintop removal rages nearby. The film analyzes how, for more than a century, mining and energy companies have been privatizing coal's profits, while socializing its costs. It features economic development incubators in rural Appalachia, as well as the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign director Mary Anne Hitt, a West Virginian, discussing ways in which we as a society might chart a path forward. It also showcases beautiful American landscapes, underscored by original compositions from Mark Orton, known for scoring 2013's Nebraska.

"No matter where your political allegiances lie, or how much of an environmentalist you do or don't identify as, when you see real people being poisoned because of an outdated form of energy, most people, we hope, will come away, saying, 'We've got to do better—for our public health, our economy and our children,'" Bonfiglio said.

Sierra recently chatted with the director about exactly how we can do better, and also about the challenges of capturing such a divisive hot-button on film.

Sierra: Who was your target audience?

Bonfiglio: That was the big question. A lot of films that are issue-oriented tend to preach to the choir, which can be wonderful—you can galvanize your base and arm people with information, and just energize them. But, we decided to go for as broad of an audience as possible, because we were hoping to reach people who may not agree with the central premise of the film—which is that coal is a 19th-century technology that is now totally out of place. Regardless of where you as an audience member stand, we want you to see something that shifts your thinking a little bit—whether it reinforces things you already knew and felt, or else introduces you to the multitude of reasons why coal is a thing of the past.

Sierra: Until watching this film, I didn't realize the extent to which coal companies secured monopolies over Appalachian economies—leaving residents with virtually no other choice of employment.

Bonfiglio: Economic diversification in coal country is a really important conversation we wanted to address. One of the things that was really important to me was pointing out the fact that there are roughly 51,000 coal miners in the country—more people are employed by Whole Foods. One point of view is, "Tough luck guys, it's a small number; sorry, but you're out of work." The other way to look at it is, "Hey, that's not that many people that we as a nation can pay back for the sacrifice and contribution they've made to our economy for generations, by investing in these communities' economic diversification."

Nobody wants to be told that what they do for a living, how they put food on their table, is bad for the world. And if you're not given any other choice, it certainly affects the way you look at an issue. But it's not an impossible task to provide good employment for people by investing in initiatives like Coalfield Development, which creates opportunities for artisans, entrepreneurship, and tradespeople in West Virginia. It's not charity—it's about trying to build for-profit enterprises, and encouraging other industries to locate in Appalachia, and taking advantage of the incredible opportunities that renewable energy will and can provide for workers all across the country. We need to be encouraging the economic growth that transition can bring to the nation.

Sierra: Tell me about your research process into the coal industry and its surrounding issues.

Bonfiglio: I'm an environmentalist, and I'm passionate about all those issues, but I didn't know very much about coal itself when the idea was first presented to me. At first, I was all, "It's a rock; it's boring" [laughs], but as I became more educated about the issue, I realized that from this little rock, not only have economies and nations been built, but lives are being affected, because currently, people are dying because of this. This rock is the biggest contributor to climate change. Of all the things that are contributing to climate change, eliminating coal from our energy sector would have the most enormous impact. The chunk of CO2 emissions from coal, in comparison to how useful it is nowadays, was very surprising to me. If you're tackling a big problem, you go after the low-hanging fruit first, and that's what the coal industry is—the easiest thing to eliminate. In the same breath, however, we need to take care of the people who've been working in those industries, by diversifying the economies that have consistently been monopolized by the coal industry.

Sierra: Tell me about your on-screen approach to climate change.

Bonfiglio: We tried not to focus on the climate, because it's so polarizing. In the world of this film, it's fine if you don't believe what all the scientists are saying. We wanted to emphasize all the other reasons why we need to be looking at a future that's moved beyond coal. So, we focused on the public health issues, and the economic issues. We tried to present the issues and arguments from as many sides as we could, and explore as many points of view as possible.

Sierra: You started working on this film before the 2016 presidential election. Did the outcome change the course of the film?

Bonfiglio: Yes and no. Like almost everyone else in the country and on the planet, we anticipated a different outcome. Originally, I think the tone of the film, which we didn't abandon at all, was going to be a little more of a reassurance: "Hey, this is happening. Coal is going away naturally, primarily because of market forces, and for a plethora of other reasons; it needs to." So we'd initially envisioned our message as being, "Hey, it's gonna be okay—this is actually a great opportunity for a healthier, better, more prosperous society." And that's still very much present in the film, but the events of the election forced us to look at some of the negative things that are happening, such as the cancellation of the Stream Protection Ruleand our withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, and to really give the issue more urgency.

Bonfiglio: So I think the message that developed from there is that it doesn't matter what Trump and Pruitt and all these people do. Well, it certainly does in the short term—especially in terms of public health! But in terms of the larger climate, those decisions aren't being made by the federal government; they're being made by municipalities and corporations and other bodies that are saying, by and large, "We want to transition to renewable energy! We don't want to burn coal." Those are the forces that are going to allow us to avoid climate catastrophe. The idiocy of the federal government under this current administration is simply delaying the inevitable. And along the way, they're continuing to con people into thinking that coal is going to come back. It's not. The people in power need to level with the American people, and invest in alternatives, and provide incentives for this inevitable transition. Because we can either be left behind while the rest of the world passes us by, or we can be innovators, and embrace the fact that over the past 10 years, renewables have plummeted in cost. Municipalities are saying, "We don't care about the treehugger leftie element of this; we're doing this because it's cheaper. If the byproduct is that our air and water is no longer poisoning us—and even if we don't believe that climate change is caused by humans—we don't really care; we're getting cheaper energy. What's the downside?"

Sierra: On the spectrum between objectivity and advocacy, where do you see this film falling?

Bonfiglio: I don't think there's any such thing as a completely objective documentary. We tell ourselves there is, but any time you make an edit, or point a camera in a certain direction, a choice is being made. So, I don't want to pretend this film doesn't have an agenda. Its biggest agenda is to educate people about issues that I think most of us don't think about on a daily basis—like where, when you turn on a light switch, that electricity is coming from, or how it's generated. So we're hoping the film helps people to think about that a bit, and decide for themselves what we should be doing about our electricity, and where it comes from.

Above all, we hope this film can educate people about an issue they may know nothing about. Or, if they know a lot about it, we're hoping the film will encourage them to look at it a little differently. We couldn't have anticipated what a big deal coal would become in the course of the campaign and election, but since it has, we hope we can talk about the issue with some real, hard facts and information, with some human stories, to help audiences better understand the impact at local levels.

Sierra: What was the most challenging aspect of making this film?

Bonfiglio: Aside from our pretty insane production schedule—we were meeting with people all over the country—the challenge was in packing in as many facts as we could, while still keeping the information digestible and palatable, and the film entertaining. We constantly asked ourselves, "Why is this a film instead of a magazine article?" We tried to craft it in such a way that you could relate to and identify with the characters, and connect to stories that have a visual and atmospheric component. Because the film is packed with information and stats and facts and figures—it needed to not be a bunch of work to sit through. You've still gotta bring your brain, but hopefully we've made it as easy as we could.

Sierra: Did you encounter any challenges finding your sources?

Bonfiglio: A lot of people we approached said no. We couldn't even get anyone from the main trade organization that represents the coal industry. It was very difficult to get people to talk to us, but the ones who did, I think, were willing to do so because we said, "Regardless of what side you're on, we want to hear your voice." It's so important to talk to each other, and understand where we're coming from—this is not an issue that's going to get solved by one side steamrolling the other, as we're seeing right now. It doesn't work. So by showing multiple sides to the issue, I hope people can walk away with the understanding that we can do things differently, and that there's incredible opportunity in doing so. We can be a stronger, more economically robust, healthier, and cleaner nation if we can look at these things not only through our own point of view, but that of other people. Hopefully, the film will help contribute to that dialogue.

Sierra: What's audience reception been like? Are you experiencing any opposition?

Bonfiglio: No, people have been incredibly receptive. I think that by and large, people appreciate that we're not trying to denigrate legitimate points of view. It's one thing to be critical of someone like Trump, who is lying to people, and who doesn't have any skin in the game. It's another to be critical of an out-of-work coal miner just trying to do what we're all trying to do—live their life and provide for their families. I have no problem doing the former—criticizing a con artist fraud like Trump. But when you're talking to a regular person trying to do their best, you can't criticize that. You have to listen. So, I think people have responded positively to the fact we're giving multiple points of view their due, while also offering alternatives that don't leave people out in the cold. There's been a false narrative that we have to have either jobs and a healthy economy or a healthy planet. I think it's the opposite. In the film, West Virginian officials admit that even in coal's heyday, West Virginia was still in the bottom five percent of the U.S. economy.

Sierra: Are you hoping to inspire any direct action? What can concerned viewers do?

Bonfiglio: I hope it makes people empathize more, and also contact their representatives, and their local utilities, to figure out where their energy comes from, and if there's an alternative to sign up for. Here where I live in New York, it takes 30 seconds, through ComEd, to switch to a cleaner option. And if your utility doesn't provide an alternative to fossil fuels, I hope you tell them you want that! On our website, viewers can check out all kinds of information and things they can do. There's also a Crowdrise campaign that's been launched to benefit Coalfield Development and other economic diversification efforts in coal country—Bloomberg is matching all donations to that campaign, up to three million dollars. So, people can directly support the great work that these people are doing in coal country to provide alternative employment for those who are out of work, or seeking work outside of the coal industry.

Reposted with permission from Sierra Magazine.

Asian elephants have been added to a list of species that need migratory protection. Steve Evans / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Karin Jäger

"They begin on a fall night, preferring the light of a full moon … Driven by the currents, they're pulled to the mouth of the river and out into the ocean," writes the WWF, rather poetically, of the European eel's long journey from the rivers of Central Europe to the far reaches of the Atlantic Ocean.

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Do you feel embarrassed due to the foul odor coming from your mouth? Or your oral hygiene isn't as good as before, and you are suffering from gingivitis (inflammation of gums)?

Well, these oral problems are skyrocketing, and even young people are suffering from oral issues that result in a lack of confidence.

It's common to change your toothpaste by seeing the TV commercials that claim to free you from bad breath or sensitive teeth, but these products don't always work.

Fighting oral issues isn't that easy, even if you religiously follow what your primary school teacher has taught, to "Brush two times a day!"

Well, there is a much-hyped supplement in the market that claims to help you fight all of these oral issues: The Steel Bite Pro.

Steel Bite Pro is an oral supplement that claims to cure bad breath and other such oral issues like sensitivity and gum problems.

But does the supplement really work, or is it just like the useless toothpaste that you tried before? Let's find out in this review.

Who Should Use Steel Bite Pro?

The best part about Steel Bite Pro is that anyone can use the supplement to get rid of oral issues. The supplement contains natural ingredients such as turmeric, zinc, alfalfa, jujube seeds, and much more, so there are no chemicals at all.

No matter whether you are 20 or 60, you can use this supplement to overcome oral issues and get the confidence back that you are missing due to bad odor and sensitive teeth.

Steel Bite Pro Review: Overview of the Supplement

Steel Bite Pro is an all-natural supplement that contains a mix of natural supplements to rebuild your gums and teeth.

The supplement contains 29 different foods that help you reduce the gum pain and other dental problems you have been facing for years.

More than 55,000 people have used Steel Bite Pro till now, and the results of the supplement are pretty impressive. Furthermore, the supplement is prepared in an FDA-approved facility in the USA.

It is available in the form of pills that you can consume anytime, so using the supplement is incredibly convenient. There are numerous benefits of using the Steel Bite Pro as it solves a plethora of dental problems.

Click here to Get the Best Deal on Steel Bite Pro from the Official Website.

Pros and Cons: Steel Bite Pro

To understand the supplement better, it is essential to know about its pros and cons.


Convenient to Use

The dietary supplement is convenient to use as it comes in the form of pills. You can take the pill anytime, even when you are in your office or somewhere else. Now there is no need to use multiple kinds of toothpaste and splurge money by visiting a dentist.

All-Natural Ingredients

All the ingredients present inside the supplement are natural, and there are no chemicals that can harm your teeth or gums.


When you compare the cost of 1 bottle with the cost of a special toothpaste with the fee that your dentist charges, Steel Bite Pro will seem much more affordable. The supplement is available in multiple packages, so you will find it affordable to use.

No Side Effects at All

There are no side effects to using Steel Bite Pro, so you can rest assured that you won't face any headaches or other issues while curing the oral issues. The reason why Steel Bite Pro has no side effects is due to its natural ingredients.

Designed by Experts

The supplement is designed by experts that have been in the industry for years.

No Additional Medicines Are Required

When you are using Steel Bite Pro, you can avoid using other medicines that you have been taking to cure oral issues.

Attacks on the Pain

There are several ingredients present in Steel Bite Pro that attack tooth and gum pain so that you get some instant relief with the supplement.

Comes With a Money Back Guarantee

The supplement comes with a 60-day money back guarantee, so you can claim a full refund if you find the supplement isn't working for you, or if it isn't doing what the manufacturer has promised.


You Can Purchase It From the Official Site Only

The supplement is only available for purchase from the Official Website. Sometimes the supplement gets out of stock, so you have to wait for it to get back in stock.

A Single Bottle Costs More

If you buy a single bottle of the supplement, it'll cost you more than other packages with multiple bottles.

Ingredients in Steel Bite Pro

All the ingredients present in Steel Bite Pro are natural and have proven benefits for humans. Here is a list of supplements explained in detail and how they can benefit you if you start using Steel Bite Pro.


As per a study, there are innumerable benefits of using turmeric on your teeth. The natural herb has antimicrobial properties that help remove the plaque effectively from the teeth, exterminate bacteria and help cure sensitivity.

Moreover, turmeric is good for fighting oral inflammation issues. When applied on teeth, the ingredient gives instant relief from pain and is effective in curing mouth ulcers as well.


Berberine is a natural herb with proven antioxidant power to help you get rid of microorganisms developing inside the mouth. Furthermore, the ingredient has anti-inflammatory properties and is good for curing oral issues caused due to viruses and bacteria.


It is another natural ingredient that is used in a range of health supplements due to its healing power. The ingredient naturally heals the gums and the damage caused to the teeth by bacteria and microorganisms.

As per a study, it helps reduce the infection, oral pain, and cures other dental issues.

Milk Thistle

Your liver has a significant impact on your oral health, and that's where milk thistle works. The natural ingredient eliminates toxins from the liver and detoxifies your mouth as well.

Here is a study that proves how milk thistle is beneficial in detoxifying the liver.


The decaying of teeth is the initial phase of damage caused by bacteria thriving inside your mouth. Alfalfa works by reducing tooth sensitivity drastically and repairs the tooth decay caused by the bacteria.

It even stops the bacteria from growing further so you can expect good oral health.


A lot of natural supplements for teeth contain ginger because of its benefits on the teeth and the stomach. This ingredient present in the Steel Bite Pro reduces nausea and inflammation.

As per this study, there are umpteen other benefits of ginger as well, such as it maintains the pH inside your mouth.

Jujube Seeds

Jujube seeds are good for boosting the immunity. Also, the ingredient has excellent antioxidant properties and is rich in Vitamin C, which is beneficial for the teeth and overall oral health.


Dandelion is a natural ingredient extracted from herbs. The ingredient is rich in minerals and has immense benefits such as fighting the bacteria and preventing the infections occurring inside your mouth.


Zinc is essential for teeth, and that is why many toothpaste brands advertise that their product contains a good amount of zinc. Further, zinc is a natural immunity booster and fights against bacteria to prevent gum disease and cavities.

Moreover, zinc repairs the enamel on your teeth that's damaged due to toothpaste or any other reasons. Here is a study that shows the benefits of zinc for your teeth and mouth.

Chicory Root

Chicory root acts as a catalyst and increases the effectiveness of other ingredients. The reason why you get instant relief from pain after using Steel Bite Pro is due to the presence of chicory root in the pills.

Celery Seeds

Bacteria result in bad odor and can create cavities in the teeth. Furthermore, some bacteria result in tooth decay and harm the gums. The celery seeds fight these bacteria and prevent further growth.

Yellow Dock

To stay healthy, the teeth need to absorb the minerals present in the saliva. When your teeth are damaged for any reason, they stop absorbing the minerals, and the damage continues further.

Yellow dock helps the teeth to absorb the minerals while reducing the inflammation. Various studies have proven the efficacy of yellow dock for teeth and gums, and it is a natural and effective ingredient to keep the teeth healthy.

Raspberry, Chanca Piedra, and Artichoke

These three natural ingredients have similar properties and contribute a lot to the effectiveness of Steel Bite Pro. The ingredients have good amounts of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin K, Vitamin C, magnesium, phosphorus, and folate.

The purifying agents will remove bacteria and other impurities from the mouth so that the other ingredients work well by repairing the teeth and gums.


The worst thing about oral issues is the pain that you have to go through. Steel Bite Pro claims to help with the pain as it contains feverfew, which is a natural pain reliever. The ingredient suppresses oral and dental pain so you will feel better instantly.

As per a study, there are some other benefits of feverfew, because it is a medicinal plant that suppresses other pains as well. Also, there are no side effects of feverfew at all.

Burdock Root

The root of the burdock plant comes loaded with antioxidants that improve the gum health and the overall health of your mouth.

The best thing about Steel Bite Pro is that the ingredients are present in exact quantities, so you can rest assured that there will be no side effects. Every ingredient is tested in the labs for its efficiency, and that's what makes the Steel Bite Pro a considerable option if you want to improve your oral and dental health.

Click here to See the full list of ingredients in Steel Bite Pro on the official website.

How Does Steel Bite Pro Work?

It is crucial to understand how the supplement works so that you can decide whether to invest in it or not. Below is a step by step process that will help you understand Steel Bite Pro on the go.

Step 1:

When you start consuming the supplement, the pills break down in your mouth. The ingredients then mix with saliva to perform their particular actions.

Step 2:

The ingredients fight the bacteria and heal issues such as wounds while reducing the inflammation caused in the mouth.

Step 3:

The supplement cements the root of the teeth so that there are no further oral and dental issues. Also, it heals the gums and repairs the enamel to provide you relief from sensitivity.

The minerals present in these ingredients strengthen the crown area of the teeth while repairing the cracks so that the damage can be stopped.

Step 4:

The supplement also has some impact on your overall health as the ingredients detoxify the liver by flushing away the toxins.

Step 5:

Consuming the supplement regularly will help you maintain the shield on the teeth that fights against bacteria and microorganisms. Also, it improves the condition of the teeth and curtails bad breath.

The working of Steel Bite Pro is really simple, as there are no complex ingredients present in the supplement. It is easy to use, and all you have to do is consume the pill regularly to keep your oral and dental health up to the mark.

Benefits of Steel Bite Pro

There are many benefits of using Steel Bite Pro since it is an all-natural supplement that has no side effects at all. Here are some benefits you need to consider before buying it.

Prevents Bleeding and Improves Gum Health

The reason why your teeth bleed is due to the loose gums. The space between the tooth and the gum results in bleeding, and that's where Steel Bite Pro helps. The supplement tightens the gums so that there is no bleeding at all.

Whitens the Teeth Naturally

The ingredients present in the supplement, such as zinc and milk thistle, whiten the teeth naturally. There is no need to invest in expensive teeth whitening toothpaste if you are using Steel Bite Pro.

Reduces Bad Breath

The supplement contains ingredients that improve the overall health of the teeth, and it automatically reduces bad breath.

Helps Cure Tooth Pain

Steel Bite Pro has feverfew, which is a natural pain reliever ingredient. The ingredient cures tooth and gum pain and can have instant results after you consume Steel Bite Pro.

Click here to Learn more about the Benefits of Steel Bite Pro on the official website.

Side Effects of Using Steel Bite Pro

You may find it surprising, but Steel Bite Pro has no side effects at all as the supplement contains natural ingredients and has exact quantities so that there are no ill effects on your health. If you keep using the supplement as prescribed, then it can have some excellent results.

Who Should Refrain from Steel Bite Pro?

Steel Bite Pro is an all-natural dietary supplement to improve your dental and oral health.

Anyone can use the supplement, including pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. There are no harms of using the supplement.

However, it would be great to consult a doctor before using the supplement to find out if you are allergic to any of the ingredients.

Dosage and Tips to Start

To get the most from Steel Bite Pro, you should consume two pills with water every day. Take both capsules together anytime that's convenient for you.

To get the best results, follow a brushing regime, and massage your teeth regularly with some good-quality oil to increase the effectiveness of the pills.

Where to Buy Steel Bite Pro, and Guarantees?

You can only buy Steel Bite Pro from the Official Site, as the supplement is not available anywhere else for purchase. You can choose from three available options:

●1 bottle (60 pills) $69

●Three bottles (180 pills) $117

●Six bottles (360 pills) $294 (Best Deal)

You get a 60-day money back guarantee with all the packages, no matter if you go for one bottle or six bottles. You are eligible to claim the full refund within 60 days of the date of purchase.

Steel Bite Pro Reviews: Closing Thoughts

After this definitive review, it will be easier for you to find out whether you should use Steel Bite Pro or not. The supplement contains a mix of 29 natural ingredients that have proven benefits and are tested in labs.

It is essential to get rid of oral and dental issues before things get out of control and you have no option left despite visiting a dentist.

Getting a good quality supplement is essential, so Steel Bite Pro is a viable option if you need a supplement with no side effects.

Anyone can use this supplement irrespective of age, sex, and medical conditions. Lastly, buy the supplement only from the official site so that you can easily claim the refund if required.

Click here to Get the best deal on Steel Bite Pro from the official website.

A pumpjack in North Dakota. Feifei Cui-Paoluzzo / Moment / Getty Images

North Dakota has found a controversial use for federal coronavirus relief money: using it to fund fracking.

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A ghost forest in Nags Head Woods, North Carolina on Oct. 16, 2017. NC Wetlands / CC BY 2.0

Along the Atlantic coast, ghost forests provide haunting signs of sea-level rise. These stands of bleached and broken tree trunks are all that remain after salty water inundates a forest.

Matt Kirwan is with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. He says ghost forests are not a new phenomenon, but they're moving inland faster as seas rise.

"Eventually they'll fall apart and become stumps surrounded by marshland," he says. "And so when you see a ghost forest now, you're seeing where the marsh will be in the future."

Marshes are valuable ecosystems, so in some ways, that's positive.

"Ghost forests are a surprising indicator of ecological resilience in coastal systems," Kirwan says. "They mark how marshes naturally migrate in response to sea-level rise."

But that migration comes at a cost.

"Places that people have lived for hundreds of years are becoming too wet and too salty to grow crops on, in some cases," Kirwan says. "And of course, the forest resources are being lost. And in some cases, people are forced to move from their homes as the land becomes too flooded."

So ghost forests have become eerie symbols of rapid change.

Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

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