I have felt quite incensed by a number of issues that are currently in the news. First, there was the oil well accident in Gulf of Mexico that cost 11 lives and the on-going attempts to cap the leaking well. The well is still pumping 42,000 gallons of oil a day into the ocean. Then there has been the issue of Taseko Mines Limited wanting to turn Fish Lake in the Chilcotin Region of British Columbia into a tailings pond. Taseko claims that the proposed Prosperity Mine has “One of the largest undeveloped copper-gold deposits in Canada”. To mine this area would mean destroying a fish bearing lake and putting an open-pit mine in the middle of traditional indigenous land. Media coverage from the CBC here.
At first I wanted to rail against the ecological destruction caused by the oil industry, and the short sightedness of such projects in the name of jobs and resource extraction. Not to mention the complicity of the Provincial government for their approval of the Prosperity Mine. But then I realized it was all my fault. And really, yours too. You see, every time gas prices go up over $1.10 a liter we all freak out and complain about the high prices and how we are being ripped off. We also think it is ok to jump on a plane and fly to Mexico for a week and are totally pumped if we can get a “great deal” for a cheap flight to some resort. We also are more than happy to buy a new cell phone, computer, iPod, big-screen tv, or some other piece of electronic equipment that contains large amounts of copper and gold every couple of years and always look for the “rippin’ deal”. So, we are all responsible for driving the demand of low-priced natural resources. Make the connections.
In the case of the Prosperity Mine and the destruction of Fish Lake, the CEO of Taseko Mines is widely reported as saying “But there was no viable alternative found despite our effort to do so. The lake and the deposit sit side by side. It’s not possible to have one without the loss of the other.” And for some people this seems to be a reasonable response, even though the Taseko website states that the project is expected t have “a 30% pre-tax internal rate of return”. And how much profit has BP been making as it’s damaged well pumps raw crude into the ocean eco-system of the Gulf of Mexico? Forbes Magazine has just reported that “BP posted a big surge in earnings Tuesday, to $6.1 billion, from $2.6 billion last year.”
Clearly, it is not only our fault for wanting to buy all of this stuff at bargain basement prices, it is also our fault for not demanding more environmental accountability from resource-based corporations who are profiting from trashing our planet. What to do?? Here are my thoughts:
- Really think about every purchase you make? Do I really need this? Is what I already have sufficient?
- Pay a little more for good products that will last longer. You get what you pay for generally holds true. Buying a quality product once for $40.00 is better than buying a crap product for $10 four times. Its better for you and better for the planet.
- Write to your federal and provincial members of parliament, and the leaders of each party. Tell them that the environment is more important to you than the economy. Having a great house with lots of toys is not worth destroying the planet. Demand greater environmental accountability from resource companies.
- Tell other what you are doing and why.
It’s just a start, but in the words of one of my favorite songwriters, Paul Kelly, “from little things, big things grow”.
I will be taking a break from contributing for about 10 days. In the mean time, post some comments about what you are doing to make a difference.