Coal and the Curse of Commercialization
By Cher Gilmore
A recent Wall Street Journal editorial crowed "Coal Makes a Comeback," touting the 14.5 percent increase in weekly coal production nationwide in 2017 compared to 2016 and the 58 percent increase in exports during the first quarter alone. That newspaper views the economic growth in coal-producing states like West Virginia, New Mexico and Kentucky stimulated by the current administration's policies as something to celebrate, and the editors conclude that "there's still demand for U.S. coal if regulators allow energy markets to work."
While the increase in coal production and use may be good news for coal companies and the states to which they pay taxes, economic growth is not the only thing to consider when weighing the costs and benefits of an activity. What about the beautiful Appalachian mountain landscapes completely destroyed by "mountaintop removal" and the streams and aquifers filled with toxic mining waste? What about the "black lung" disease suffered by too many miners, and the deaths from collapsed mines? And, perhaps most significantly, what about the fact that coal-burning plants are some of the biggest emitters of the greenhouse gases causing global warming and wreaking havoc on the planet?
These effects of coal production—the ones that affect the daily lives of actual people—are not even considered in the calculation. Why would that be? British author Benjamin Creme said it's because we don't understand the larger purpose of life. "We have replaced our reverence for life with commercialization, a market forces economy and the worship of money. The economy is the new religion of the world, and it is this commercialization that is driving us to the very edge of destruction."
In a world of commercialization, everything becomes a commodity with a price tag. Individuals are seen only as consumers, and those with the biggest bank accounts are able to buy whatever they want. Those who have little get little, and what they do get—including basic necessities like food and water—is often second rate or worse. Corporate and financial interests rank above the needs of human beings and the health of the planet, and unhappy people are either lulled into apathy by 24-hour digital entertainment, or turn to drugs and alcohol to escape from their narrow, unsatisfying lives.
In thrall to market forces, governments compete fiercely with one another, sacrificing the livelihood and well-being of their peoples. The major industrialized countries, making up only a third of the world's population, dominate the global economy and impose their chosen structure—commercialization or "competition" biased in their favor—on the other two-thirds. "This," said Creme, "is economic totalitarianism and must come to an end. It is based on the lie that we all start equal; we do not."
Creme has been the major spokesperson for decades regarding information about the World Teacher for this age: Maitreya. According to Creme, Maitreya is expected to appear at the invitation of the world's media on an international television broadcast when the conditions are right—most likely following the predicted world financial collapse, which will awaken humanity to reality for the first time and open us to hearing Maitreya's advice.
During that broadcast, Maitreya will analyze our present problems and show clearly the consequences of various actions we might take. These revelations will ultimately bring us to an inevitable choice: to continue in our destructive business as usual mode and extinguish all life, or to follow his suggestions for a simpler, saner way of living that will guarantee a happier future for all people.
Maitreya will teach, most basically, the need to share the natural resources of the world, which belong to everyone equally and should not be greedily usurped by the wealthy few. Since this is antithetical to the direction the developed world in particular is moving, in order for Maitreya's central principles—justice, freedom and sharing, for all people on Earth—to be put into practice, the existing social/economic structure will have to be dissolved. The financial collapse will have that effect. In its aftermath, we will begin to know ourselves as brothers and sisters, and with Maitreya's help will come to see that the only way forward is together, in cooperation, for the common good.
When we have come to our senses, we will not choose to "grow our economy" regardless of the burdens it places on ordinary people and the planet. Nor will we choose to promote the burning of coal—which is only today's example of commercialization gone amok—or any other action whose end result is planetary destruction. Benjamin Creme's spiritual Master assures us, "From the ruins of the old, a new civilization will be built by human hands under the inspiration of Maitreya ... Humanity will overcome this time of crisis and enter into a new and better relationship with itself, its planet and its source."
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It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.
Keeping Schools Safe<p>What will safer schools look like?</p><p>In a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766822" target="_blank">JAMA article</a> published last month, <a href="https://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/1781/joshua-m-sharfstein" target="_blank">Dr. Joshua Sharfstein</a>, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP's.</p><p>Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.</p><p>He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child's health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.</p><p><a href="https://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/faculty/erika-martin" target="_blank">Erika Martin</a>, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.</p>
Supporting Staff<p>Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted <a href="https://directory.sph.umn.edu/bio/sph-a-z/rachel-widome" target="_blank">Rachel Widome</a>, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.</p><p>"In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we'll be asking a lot of teachers and staff," Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they'll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.</p><p>Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.</p>
Should Kids Go Back?<p>While these guidelines may help get some schools to reopen, many people don't think children should go back to school over fears they could contract the disease and spread it to other vulnerable family members like grandparents, infant siblings, or their parents.</p><p>In a <a href="https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2020/07/08/peds.2020-004879" target="_blank">Pediatrics</a> commentary, <a href="https://www.md.com/doctor/william-raszka-md" target="_blank">Dr. William V. Raszka, Jr.</a>, an infectious disease specialist at The University of Vermont Medical Center, argued that schools should open because school-aged children are far less important drivers of COVID-19 than adults.</p><p>But he says the risk and benefit is not equal among all students ages 5 to 18.</p><p>"Elementary schools are arguably higher priority for face-to-face schooling, since younger children are at lower risk for infection and transmission, and since parental supervision of younger children's distance learning may be particularly challenging," added Sorensen, who penned a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2767411" target="_blank">June article in JAMA</a> with reopening tips. "That means middle and high schools are more likely to emphasize distance learning."</p><p>Specific student populations, such as special education students and students with disabilities, would also benefit greatly from more time spent in face-to-face environments, Sorensen said.</p>
What Parents Can Do<p>Parents should ask for and receive frequent updates from schools about plans for the fall. They should also be informed about plans if and when COVID infections are identified, Sharfstein said.</p><p>"I'd like to see parents investing now, during the summer, in doing things that can slow and stop the spread of the virus in their communities," Widome said.</p><p>"Now is a good time for kids to practice wearing masks and get used to them as they may be wearing them for longer stretches if school starts up in person," Widome suggested.</p><p>She recommends parents try different mask designs and materials to see what children are more comfortable wearing.</p><p>"If you are using cloth face coverings, it's good to have extras on hand," Widome added.</p><p>Parents should model healthy behavior at home and while out in public — another thing that could affect how well children adapt to reopening practices, Sorensen said.</p><p>"Children may want to know more about face coverings," added <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/leescott/" target="_blank">Lee Scott</a>, chairwoman of the Educational Advisory Board at <a href="https://www.goddardschool.com/" target="_blank">The Goddard School</a>. "Dramatic play, such as creating or wearing a face covering, may help some children adjust to this concept." Schools can also show children photos of what faculty members look like in their masks so the students are familiar with that appearance.</p><p>Johns Hopkins University recently released its eSchool+ Initiative, a slew of resources surrounding education during the pandemic. These include a <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-checklist/" target="_blank">checklist for administrators</a>, report on <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/ethics-of-reopening/" target="_blank">ethical considerations</a>, and a tracker of <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-policy-tracker/" target="_blank">state and local reopening plans</a>.</p>
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<div id="fea63" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9a6f211c2bc5aedd34837944cb8eeedf"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1281000111481294849" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Water in Illinois is overwhelmingly public. Why is Tammy Duckworth sponsoring a bill that aims to change that? https://t.co/1V36Kkd99s</div> — The American Prospect (@The American Prospect)<a href="https://twitter.com/TheProspect/statuses/1281000111481294849">1594249201.0</a></blockquote></div>
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