Humans dig coal out of the ground. Humans burn it in to the air. And while everything on this planet will deal with the consequences of the CO2 that's produced when we do, humans are responsible for the problem and for finding the solution.
In my cover story published today, I tried hard to keep the focus on humans -- the rancher in Montana battling Arch Coal; the mayor in Sheridan, Wyo., trying to figure out how to keep people employed in his city; the climate scientist in Bothell sending students out to capture coal dust.
But in a story like this, it's impossible to avoid the inanimate: Railroad tracks, barges and, yes, lumps of coal.
Here are some important documents to consider when thinking about the prospect of Washington and Oregon becoming the seat of American coal's global expansion.