By Matthew Lemarie
While supporters of the global warming theory are increasing, coal industry expert John Whitfield said on Monday that no evidence exists linking human activity with the increase in atmospheric temperature.
Whitfield, CEO of Longwall Mining Services in Pittsburgh, said that over the years, the coal and natural gas industries have gotten a bad reputation by misled environmentalist groups, claiming CO2 emission is a direct result of underground mining. While Whitfield said he does not disagree with the idea of global warming, he firmly believes it is not a result of human activity. “The universe is immense and radiation is everywhere,” Whitfield said. “In addition, this is not the first time in history where an increase in atmospheric temperature has occurred.”
Scientific research by one of the top universities in the country, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, revealed that the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere traps heat, gradually increasing the atmospheric temperature. But is carbon dioxide emission a result of human activity or other environmental factors?
Activists from all over the state gathered on Monday in the streets of Pittsburgh to protest the reliance on coal and natural gas fracking as main sources of energy, according to the Post Gazette. Whit Jones, leader of the Energy Action Coalition was quoted stating “We’re trying to advocate for society to move beyond fossil fuels like coal and natural gas, to transition to a cleaner energy economy that will provide safer jobs.” Whitfield claimed that many young environmentalists are misinformed and have no knowledge of the subject matter.
“Unfortunately, many young people are misled by the media about the truth of climate change,” Whitfield said. “In addition, they do not know the kind of impact that a disappearing coal industry would have on the economy of Pennsylvania.”
Despite the fact that coal mining produces thousands of jobs in western Pennsylvania and West Virginia, people are beginning to question whether there are safer and less destructive ways to produce the world’s energy. In May 2013, 28 miners were killed in an explosion in the Sichuan province of southwestern China, according to CNN. Popular Mechanics magazine reported that in 2006, two miners were trapped and killed in an underground mine after a fire began on a conveyor belt.
It’s incidences like the aforementioned ones that have many people worried not only about the harmful effects that burning fossil fuels can have on the environment, but the dangers it poses to the workers of the industry as well. Whitfield explained that new technology and safety measures that have been implemented over the years have significantly increased the safety of underground mining.
“Given the amount of underground mines there are, the industry is extremely safe. Almost every accident that occurs on site is a direct result of human error,” Whitfield said.
The company owned by Whitfield specializes in the manufacturing and distribution of underground coal mining equipment. In his 35 years of experience in the mining industry, he said he has worked in underground mines as a general laborer, moving his way up to a management position with his company, all while obtaining his degree in engineering from Newcastle University in England. In 1981, he was transferred by his company to the United States, where he decided to start his own business.
While global warming has been subject for much debate over the years, we still have a long way to go before a consensus will be reached by activists and union workers. Environmentalists believe that the burning of fossil fuels is already having detrimental effects on our climate, and something must be done quickly. On the other hand, conservatives say that too much money has already been spent and wasted on finding alternative energy sources. One thing is very clear: given the stiff controversy surrounding climate change, we must find a consensus on the issue to ensure that other social problems do not develop as a result.