• The impact of Hambach mine

      Norrito, Benjamin C. (2021-05)
      Like many countries across the globe, both developed and developing, Germany has had a historical reliance on coal. Sitting on a massive amount of lignite (also known as “brown coal”) reserves, Germany has encouraged continued coal extraction and consumption in order to ensure its energy independence. This policy has led to a number of massive open-pit mines across the northwest of the country. One such mine, Hambach mine, stands at the site of a once proud and ancient forest of the same name. As the lignite sat under the forest, the mine continually consumed it in order to access the fuel beneath. Since the mining began in the late 1970s, the forest has been reduced by 90% and at a great cost. As the forest has been logged, biodiversity has been threatened along with the fragile and unique ecosystem it contains. The mine has also been responsible for a decrease in air quality and has overseen a rise in respiratory issues as far as France. The mine has been detrimental to its surroundings as well, consuming a number of villages, all while the parent company, RWE, offers their condolences. The major impacts of the mine have not gone unnoticed and many have protested, aiming to protect what remains of the ancient forest as well as the nearby towns. Despite resistance to the mine, RWE, partnered with the German government has persisted with its mining operations even as coal becomes less desirable fuel in the face of climate change.