EARLY RESEARCH ON THE COAL INDUSTRY, 1934-1955

Coal, as the fossil fuel of greatest abundance and widest distribution, has long attracted attention from geographers. In the early years, this attention focused on the location of deposits and their transport and much of it mirrored the major coal fields of Britain, Germany, Poland, and the United States. The accounts in geography journals were largely descrip­tive, economic, and cartographic. Little or no interest was evident regarding the environmental costs. Later, when the public mood shifted and impacts were widespread, more attention was paid to environ­mental impacts, especially air pollution and its dispersal, impacts of acid rain, landscapes altered by strip mining and waste heaps, and the forced relocation of residents. This emphasis came with the increasing knowledge not only of the damage that was created by our demand and use of coal but also that we should and could do something to reduce or reverse the impact it was having on air, land, and water. From this point forward, research articles were much more widely dispersed, within a range of environmental journals and books, and the type of writing was more analytical.

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