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Coal occupies a central position in modern human endeavors. Last year over 7000 megatons were mined worldwide. Powerful, yet dirty and dangerous, use of coal is expanding every year, with 2010 witnessing a production increase of 6.8%. Around 70 countries have recoverable reserves, which some estimates claim will last for over a hundred years at current production levels. Mining for coal is one of the world's most dangerous jobs. While deadliest in China, where thousands of miners die annually, the profession is still hazardous in the West and other regions as well. Our mining and use of coal accounts for a variety of environmental hazards, including the production of more CO2 than any other source. Other concerns include acid rain, groundwater contamination, respiratory issues, and the waste products which contain heavy metals. But our lives as lived today rely heavily on the combustible sedimentary rock. Over 40% of the world's electricity is generated by burning coal, more than from any other source. Chances are that a significant percentage of the electricity you're using to read this blog was generated by burning coal. Gathered here are images of coal extraction, transportation, and the impact on environment and society. The first eight photographs are by Getty photographer Daniel Berehulak, who documented the lives of miners in Jaintia Hills, India. -- Lane Turner (48 photos total)
22-year-old Shyam Rai from Nepal makes his way through tunnels inside of a coal mine 300 ft beneath the surface on April 13, 2011 near the village of Latyrke, in the district of Jaintia Hills, India. In the Jaintia hills, located in India's far northeast state of Meghalaya, miners descend to great depths on slippery, rickety wooden ladders. Children and adults squeeze into rat hole like tunnels in thousands of privately owned and unregulated mines, extracting coal with their hands or primitive tools and no safety equipment. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

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SWEATING BEADS
SWEATING BEADS: Beads of perspiration dropped from the face of Spain’s Rafael Nadal during a match against the Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday. Mr. Nadal won. (Darren Whiteside/Reuters)

CHALLENGING PUTIN
CHALLENGING PUTIN: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin instructed a boy during a judo demonstration in Kemerovo, Russia, Tuesday. (Reuters)

MOVING HOUSE
MOVING HOUSE: Workers lifted a Habitat house over a fence from a South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice facility in Columbia, S.C., Monday. Youths at the facility worked with volunteers to build the home for a woman whose son suffers from cerebral palsy. (Gerry Melendez/the State/Associated Press)

A MOCKERY OF JUSTICE
A MOCKERY OF JUSTICE: A demonstrator motioned to a doll bearing the likeness of former dictator Gen. Francisco Franco as he held up a banner of Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon at Madrid’s Supreme Court Tuesday. The judge is being tried for probing alleged atrocities around Spain’s 1936-39 civil war, which brought Mr. Franco to power. (Susana Vera/Reuters)

TEARFUL TESTIMONY
TEARFUL TESTIMONY: Audrey Mabrey wiped tears away as she testified Tuesday in Tampa., Fla., against her husband, Christopher Hanney, who allegedly set her on fire. (Kathleen Flynn/Tampa Bay Times/Zuma Press)

FATHER AND SON
FATHER AND SON: A boy rested next to his father at a hospital after they were wounded in a car bombing in the Sadr City area of Baghdad Tuesday. A series of car bombs exploded in Shiite areas, killing at least nine people and injuring dozens, an interior ministry official said. (Ahmad al-Rubaye/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

TANGLED UP
TANGLED UP: Iceland’s Robert Gunnarsson lay on the ground during a game against Spain at the European Handball Championship in Novi Sad, Serbia, Tuesday. (Laszlo Balogh/Reuters)

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