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Andrey Rudakov

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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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VICTORY
VICTORY: French rider Arnaud Demare, center, celebrated his win with teammate Adrien Petit, behind him, as they crossed the finish line of the men’s under-23 road race at the Road World Championships Friday in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images)

STIFF AS A BOARD
STIFF AS A BOARD: Hundreds of Filipino college students staged a ‘planking’ protest to denounce budget cuts for higher education near the gates of the presidential palace in Manila, Philippines, Friday. (Dennis M. Sabangan/EPA)

PRAYING FOR PEACE
PRAYING FOR PEACE: An Afghan man prayed at the grave of former president Burhanuddin Rabbani at the Wazir Akbar Khan hilltop overlooking Kabul on Friday. Mr. Rabbani, who was in charge of peace talks with the Taliban, was killed in his home on Tuesday by a suicide bomber. (Shah Marai AFP/Getty Images)

OFF TO SEE THE POPE
OFF TO SEE THE POPE: Pilgrims walked toward the chapel in Etzelsbach, Germany, Friday, for a service with Pope Benedict XVI. The pope is on a four-day official visit to his homeland, Germany. (Nigel Treblin/Associated Press)


BUY! SELL! Traders signaled offers on Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index options at the Chicago Board Options Exchange Friday. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

AMONG THE ASHES
AMONG THE ASHES: Two children searched for valuable items in a burnt house after a fire in Paranaque City, Philippines, Friday. More than 100 houses were razed by the fire, leaving 300 families homeless and one elderly woman dead. (Rouelle Umali/Zuma Press)

STACKS OF STEEL
STACKS OF STEEL: An OAO TMK employee walked between stacks of steel sheets used in the production of seamless pipes at the company’s smelting complex in Volzhsky, Russia, on Thursday. (Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg)

STATEHOOD BID
STATEHOOD BID: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, right, reacted to a standing ovation before his address to the U.N. General Assembly on Friday. (Richard Drew/Associated Press)

UP, UP AND AWAY
UP, UP AND AWAY: A balloonist inflated a hot air balloon at the Balloon Cup in Kirchberg, Austria, on Friday. (Kerstin Joensson/Associated Press)

HIS HOLINESS
HIS HOLINESS: Worshipers attended a vesper service held by Pope Benedict XVI in Etzelsbach, Germany, Friday. The 84-year-old pope has a packed program, with 18 sermons and speeches planned for his four-day trip to Berlin, Erfurt and Freiburg. (Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images)

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