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pollution

This Land Is Our Land


This time, it begins after dark. There’s a solemnity that was absent from the previous day’s rituals, which I had witnessed when the sky was still light. “This time, we have to be serious. We can’t be jokey-jokey,” says Syafiq Dendi Abdullah, a twenty-six-year-old shaman and an activist- leader of Malaysia’s indigenous Temiar community.

Jharia Burning

At the center of Dhanbad City, in the Jharia region of northeastern India, amid a handful of concrete buildings, stands the enormous bronze statue of a coal miner. He is shirtless, muscular, and handsome. He strides doggedly forward, a mining helmet on his head, a pickax slung over his shoulder. The message is clear: Coal is my life.

The Pit

In Montana, you need not go far in search of wounds. The place is rife with them. All you have to do is look between the familiar postcards of The Last Best Place and you’ll see them: slick, deforested hillsides connecting at sharp angles in a quilt-pattern over every national forest; dams holding back decades of poisonous sludge, buried deep in some of the biggest waterways; trees cracking and listing in burns that are bigger than certain East Coast states; vast pits of toxic mineral water sidling right up to the highway.