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The PristinePlanet.com Newsletter
10 August 2005 -- Issue #10
Editor: Michael J. Ross
Editor's Message

Hello, dear reader, and welcome to this month's issue of our newsletter. It's hard to believe that this is our 10th issue! It seems like only yesterday that we first got started. In that first foray into newsletter editorship, I stated that "...this newsletter is published by us, but it is meant for you," and invited everyone to pass along feedback and ideas. If any of you have particular article topics that you would like to see covered in future issues, please post those suggestions in the "Tell Us What You Think" section of the Forum. All input is most welcome!

Environmental News

Coal Fires Underground, Part 1

Now that worldwide oil production is falling and oil prices are rising, more countries are turning to coal to fill growing energy needs. Unfortunately, an increasing amount of that coal is being burned before humans even get to it -- to burn it themselves and at least make use of the converted energy. In many countries, a disconcerting number of coal deposits are catching fire, and for engineering and budgetary reasons, it is proving impossible to extinguish or even reach most of those fires. As a result, they can burn for decades, or longer: Australia's Burning Mountain has burned for an estimated 6,000 years, making it the world's oldest known coal fire. That particular underground fire, like many others, is naturally occurring.

Yet most such fires are man-made, and the situation is getting worse as coal mining intensifies, thus exposing more coal to open air. The coal combines with oxygen, resulting in a fuel that can ignite spontaneously at 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Human activity and lightning strikes can also spark the inflammable soft coal. The fire burns downward, obtaining air through fissures in rock and porous dirt. Once the fire works its way deep underground, it is difficult if not impossible for humans to evaluate and contain it. An underground fire can smolder for decades without revealing itself aboveground. Eventually, in a process called subsidence, burning subterranean coal turns to ash, creating massive underground caves, causing the earth above to crack and collapse, which allows in even more air to fuel the flames. In fact, most of the mesas and escarpments of the American West, resulted from vast, ancient coal fires.

The U.S., a longtime coal producer, has burning mines in many parts of the country. Centralia, Pennsylvania was once a thriving town; but a nearby extensive network of coal mines caught fire, most likely in May of 1962, when sanitation personnel began burning garbage near an old mine entrance. As a result, the fires continued burning at depths of up to 300 feet during the ensuing 43 years, essentially destroying the town. Huge swaths of vegetation were burned, leaving behind near lifeless areas. Hundreds of fissures released sulfurous gases, poisoning the air and the residents. Discarded tires and plastic lay melting in 20-feet-deep pits. In 1981, a boy almost disappeared down a sudden sinkhole that was quickly engulfed in dense gases. After that, most of the town's residents were evacuated when they accepted the federal government's relocation offer.

The government took title of Centralia, and erased its ZIP code. But some squatters remain, putting up with the sulfur fumes and the curious visitors, but also enjoying the quick-melting snow and lack of property taxes. The federal government decided that it was cheaper to pay everyone to move then to put out the fires, which are expected to burn for another 250 years, destroying 3700 acres, before running out of fuel. Similar stories can be found elsewhere in the U.S. Pennsylvania currently has 38 such conflagrations -- the worst in the nation. Throughout the U.S., people are being poisoned, car-sized sinkholes are appearing without warning, and towns are slowly being destroyed.

But the greatest environmental dangers from coal fires lie outside of America.

[To be continued...]

Member Profiles

Essential Wholesale

Countless businesses in the area of natural products, first got started when the founders had a personal experience with natural healing, thus prompting them to begin developing their own enterprise based upon sustainable principles and the idea of sharing the power of natural healing with others. Essential Wholesale is no exception. This Oregon-based firm can trace its beginnings to an experience of cofounders Dennis and Kayla Fioravanti, when they were faced with the challenge of a son suffering from ringworm, which did not respond to conventional medication, but was resolved with tea tree oil. This eye-opening incident clearly demonstrated to them the power of essential oils, leading them to start making soap bars scented with essential oils, and giving those out as holiday gifts. These were well received, prompting the couple to create and distribute a one-page flyer to family members, who passed them along to friends and colleagues. In a matter of months, Dennis and Kayla were actively selling aromatherapy soaps and other body care products in retail stores in several states.

In order to deepen their knowledge of aromatherapy, Dennis and Kayla began researching natural cosmetic formulation, as well as studying to become certified and registered aromatherapists themselves. Putting that knowledge to good use, they began formulating their own creations, while staying true to the principles of using only natural and environmentally-friendly methods and ingredients, including 100% pure and unadulterated essential oils. Their original retail line of products gradually evolved into their current offerings of products that they private label for their clients, in addition to the world's most extensive selection of naturally-derived bulk cosmetic bases. Clients are able to specify various combinations of essential and botanical oils, plus exotic butters and waxes.

Essential Wholesale is now a thriving business, with over 35,000 square feet of space for office, manufacturing, and research purposes. The firm offers thousands of products over the Internet, as well as throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Asia. Despite the commercial success and greater size, the company is still run by the original principles of using only top-quality ingredients, satisfying clients completely, and being responsive and supportive of small businesses everywhere. The company is still family-owned, privately-held, and debt-free. To this day, Dennis and Kayla continue to play an active role in the enterprise, in business operations and also product development. They stand behind their company's goal of helping their clients fulfill their business dreams, by offering the finest natural bath and skin care products, essential and wholesale.

PristinePlanet.com News

Limerick/Haiku Contest

One of the PristinePlanet.com members mentioned in an earlier newsletter, Kate's Caring Gifts, is now running a limerick/haiku contest, in which anyone is invited to write and submit a limerick and/or a haiku pertaining to the environment, organic living, or sustainability. Two first-prize winners will each receive a $100 gift certificate! The entry form can be found here.

Archived Newsletters

All material copyright © 2004 PristinePlanet.com™, except for Environmental News articles copyright © 2004 Michael J. Ross. All rights reserved. No portion of this newsletter can be copied without express written permission from its copyright holder.

Letters and guest articles posted in the Newsletter section of the Forum or sent to the publisher become the property of PristinePlanet.com, and may be edited for brevity or clarity prior to publication.

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