COS 136-10 - Beyond coal: A resilient new economy for Appalachia

Friday, August 12, 2011: 11:10 AM
16A, Austin Convention Center
Samir K. Doshi, Robert M Buchan Department of Mining, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada, John Todd, Ocean Arks, International, Woods Hole, MA and Anthony McInnis, Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT

Mountaintop removal coal mining threatens the economic future and biodiversity of Appalachia. It also negatively affects global climate stability.  We believe that a durable economy can be created for the region, based on ecological principles. This economy would depend on natural resources, renewable energy, and the broad participation of the people of Appalachia.  Ecological design—employing nature's operating instructions—forms the basis for this proposal. It takes place at three levels, with each level, or order, providing the foundation for the next level of integration. In aggregate, the levels provide an infrastructural framework with the potential to underpin a new economy and the environment.  First-order ecological design addresses the strengthening of weakened ecosystems, rapid soil creation, natural resources development and ecomimetic technologies that support new economic activities. Second-order ecological design involves the development of new symbiotic systems that link across sectors, including energy, natural resources, and regional resource-based manufacturing of a range of products and services. Third-order ecological design adds a time dimension or succession, both on the landscape itself and of the institutions required to transform the landscape into a durable economy that serves the people of the region.  


Experiments in the restoration of surface coal mined lands have begun incorporating native warm season grasses and soil building techniques adopted from soil-forming practices employed in other parts of the world. The biofuel feedstock potential of these early succession native grasses are being investigated, and Eco-Machines for the detoxification of coal slurry are described. We propose this theory of ecological design for the remaking of damaged landscapes and the creation of a diverse new economy with the broad participation of the people of the region. Our design approach applies ecological principles to the healing of the landscape and the formation of an economy based on natural resources and renewable energy.

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