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The Green Life: Colbert on Coal

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January 21, 2010

Colbert on Coal

The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Coal Comfort - Margaret Palmer
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Economy

Funnyman Stephen Colbert recently tackled the issue of mountaintop-removal mining on the Colbert Report, describing the process with deadpan sarcasm: "You start with some boring, tree-covered mountain and you turn it into an exciting, lifeless moon base." 

To illustrate our obsession with coal, the comedian quipped, "if a diamond is a girl's best friend, then coal is her hotter, younger sister." During the sketch, Colbert poked fun at his show's own consumption with a shot of an "intern" shoveling coal into a giant stove.

In fact, coal provides about half of the electricity consumed in the United States, accounting for more than 30 percent of our greenhouse gases. Colbert's guest, scientist Margaret Palmer, chose to focus on the environmental consequences of the mining process rather than demonizing coal itself. Palmer is the lead author of a recent Science article calling for a moratorium on mountaintop-removal mining. Among the causes for concern are elevated levels of manganese and selenium in drinking water. Palmer and her fellow researchers say the impacts of mining are irreversible.

While Palmer's diagnosis is dire, her appearance on the show ended on a lighter note when Colbert asked, "if we didn't blow up these mountains, don't you think those mountains would just as easily blow us up? Have you heard of Vesuvius or Penetubo or Mount St. Helens? Payback is a b***h, baby."

--Della Watson


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