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On The Road: Three Observations From London

Paul Glazzard
The Geograph Britain And Ireland Project/Wikimedia Commons
Known to miners as 'The Big K', Kellingley Colliery started with the sinking of shafts in 1958 with the first coal being produced in 1965. It's one of three of Britain's three remaining deep pit coal mines facing closure in the next 18 months.

World Views host Suzette Grillot starts a three-country, four-city, five-week tour of Europe this week for her work as the Dean of the College of International Studies at the University of Oklahoma. This week she’s in London with OU Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Clarke Stroud.

Turkey's Mining Disaster Resonates in England

Turkey’s prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an evoked England’s history of coal mining in the early 19th and 20th centuries this week during a press conference following the death of hundreds of miners in his country. Erdogan said mine accidents were “ordinary things” that happened in many countries, including England and the United States.

Stroud says news that two of England’s three remaining deep coal mines could soon close started conversations in the United Kingdom this week, not necessarily because of safety, but because of the implications for jobs and income tax revenue.

“One of the indicators for the closure of these mines was cheaper American coal coming over,” Stroud says. “As America moves toward shale-based oil and natural gas, what's happened is American coal is cheaper, so it's not profitable anymore for these mines to operate.”

So Do Industrial Lessons From Across The Atlantic

As coal is traded on the global market and mines pop up in countries like Turkey and China, industry pressure causes longtime coal producers like Britain to suffer. Stroud compares it to the decline of the American steel industry in the 20th century.

“We watched international steel and cheaper steel come over, and really change the face of what we now call the Rust Belt in the U.S.,” Stroud says. “So England is really having to struggle through making decisions about how they're going to go forward, and what their commitment is going to be to coal.”

Culturally Diverse, But Economically Homogenous

Stroud describes London as a cosmopolitan, international city, with nearly four in 10 residents born overseas. But he says there’s very little socioeconomic diversity.

“These are wealthier people who are living here because this city is so expensive,” Stroud says. “This is Europe's most populous city, and it's attracting Europeans from all over the continent. [An OU alumna Stroud and Grillot met with] pays $8,000 for a 1,000 square feet in a flat. It's just mind-boggling.”

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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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