Oil field workers drill into the Gypsum Hills near Medicine Lodge, Kan. Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," to coax out oil and gas has led to a natural gas boom, but some remain concerned of the potential environmental impact.
This past week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a report linking climate change to some of the extreme weather events of 2011, like the devastating drought in Texas and record high temperatures in Britain.
None of this bodes well for the future, but there is a glimmer of hope. It turns out that U.S. carbon emissions are down nearly 8 percent since 2006.
Equipment for transporting and housing coal sits idle in Cowen, W.Va. Since the natural gas boom, several mines in Webster County have either slowed or shut down operation, laying off hundreds of workers.
Credit Guy Raz / NPR
Rich Lewis worked as a miner for almost two decades before being laid off by Arch Coal. He says he's considering taking a job at another mine, but it's not certain that mine will stay open.
This week, one of the biggest coal mining companies in Central Appalachia, Patriot Coal, filed for bankruptcy protection. Over the past three months, a wave of layoffs has hit coal country hard, and this past month, the share of all U.S. electricity generated from coal hit its lowest level since the 1940s. Our colleague Guy Raz visited Webster County in the middle of West Virginia to find out what's killing King Coal.