Fire in the Hole

Across the globe, thousands of coal fires are burning. Nearly impossible to reach and extinguish once they get started, the underground blazes threaten towns and roads, poison the air and soil and, some say, worsen global warming. The menace is growing: mines open coal beds to oxygen; human-induced fires or spontaneous combustion provides the spark.
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The enduring nature of systems of oppression

Economic research has shown that the distribution of areas of relative poverty in Peru can be partly explained by the lingering effects of the mita system of forced mining labour that began in 1573 and ceased two hundred years ago .  The mita effect continues to reduce household consumption by around 25% and increases the prevalence of stunted growth in children by 5% compared to the districts in Peru where forced labour was not practiced.

This example, one of many, underlines the immense, enduring impact of the systems of oppression that our world is based upon. It also highlights the urgency of addressing them.


Dell. “The Persistent Effects of Peru’s Mining Mita.” Econometrica 78, no. 6 (2010): 1863–1903.