Tag: Lake Iliamna

Pebble Bay in Alaska

The challenge of what to ‘farm’ from our planet.

Last Sunday, after the mid-morning service, one of the congregation passed me a letter she had received from the Natural Resources Defense Council.  It was all about the proposed mine in Alaska known as the Pebble Mine.  She asked if I might write about it on Learning from Dogs.  WikiPedia introduces the project thus,

Pebble Mine is the common name of an advanced mineral exploration project investigating a very large porphyry copper, gold, and molybdenum mineral deposit in the Bristol Bay region of Southwest Alaska, near Lake Iliamna and Lake Clark. The proposal to mine the ore deposit, using large-scale operations and infrastructure, is controversial. Proponents argue that the mine will create jobs, provide tax revenue to the state of Alaska, and reduce American dependence on foreign sources of raw materials. Opponents argue that the mine would adversely affect the entire Bristol Bay watershed; and that the possible consequences to fish populations, when mining effluents escape planned containments, are simply too great to risk. Much of this debate concerns the tentative plan to impound large amounts of water, waste rock, and mine tailings behind several earthen dams at the mine site.

Proposed mine location

My instinct is to join the side of those protesting because, once again, it seems like another example of mankind working hard to exhaust every natural jewel in the planet’s crown.

Yet, I was also conscious that I’m sitting in front of a computer that will have it’s fair share of copper inside it and that we, as in Jean and me, use a whole range of sophisticated materials in our daily lives, ergo leading a life that genuinely reduces our footprint on Planet Earth is easier said than done.

Here’s one ‘protest’ website that sets out the reasons for not proceeding with this mine,

1. Bristol Bay is home to the world’s largest sockeye salmon run.
2. Pebble mine would generate toxic waste in a seismically active region.
3. A majority of the people of Bristol Bay do not want the mine.
4. Native people live in Bristol Bay, and they subsist off the land.
5. Bristol Bay is home to an abundance of animals that need pristine habitat.
6. Bristol Bay has thousands of rivers and streams that would be degraded.
7. Commercial and sport fishing jobs would be jeopardized.
8. Wild salmon provide us with omega-3 fatty acids.
9. The Pebble Limited Partnership is untrustworthy.
10. Future generations depend on us to protect their most important and lasting legacy–the land.

There is a website that supports the project, where you will read their ‘core value’ expressed as, “Responsible mining technologies that actively support a healthy, respectful and sustainable co-existence with the environment and Southwest Alaska culture.

Ultimately, it all comes down to there being too many people competing for too few resources.  Nay, worse than that.  It comes down to too many people living on this small planet, over-consuming what the planet can deliver and running out of time.  There are millions who instinctively feel very uncomfortable about the future but, as yet, no global movement with real political power to make a difference.

That, I regret, is the core issue for humanity.