Friday, December 2, 2011

Dirty Pebble

I have seen and heard a lot over the last year about the proposed Pebble Mine.  I'm against it.  How much of this earth do we really need to rape and pillage?  What parts are we willing to protect, regardless of the street value of its resources?

I hear a lot about the potential dangers to Bristol Bay- I hear you loud and clear.  The dangers are real, the risk to the natural landscape and ecosystem are real.  What I don't hear, are hard number comparisons.  I hear a lot about the numbers of salmon, the number of jobs, the livelihoods and local communities that would be devastated by an accident or contamination.  But here is what you need to be aware of- what you're up against.

There's over $21 billion worth of copper in the deposit, and over $19 trillion- yes, trillion, in gold.

So here's what we're going to do.  We're going to complain, write letters, join websites, heck, even donate to our various favorite charities.  We will click "Like".  We'll dick around and gnash our teeth while the vastly more interested and funded parties do their dirty work.   The Pebble mine will proceed as planned.  They will do a magnificent job- this will be the mine to end all mines.  It will be safe, environmentally clean (except for the immediate area that gets torn up for the, ahem... mine.)  And then, IT will happen.

IT doesn't matter what IT is.  IT will happen- after all 'IT happens.  IT hits the fan all the time.  We don't know what IT will be, only that IT will happen.  An earthquake that splits those enormous earthen dams, a leakage, multiple leakages, the death by 1000 cuts that happens when you build a ginormous mine- a deepwater harbor, giant earthen dams, a long road, dozens of bridges and some pipelines.  Ten, or 25, or 75 years from now, the children, nay, grandchildren of the current residents will say "Grandfather, tell us about when the rivers were red with fish...." as they reside in Anchorage, or Vancouver, or some rez in North Dakota.

Once you let the genie out of the bottle, it's incredibly difficult to cram him back in.  I am not against all development and progress- I wrote this post on my laptop, replete in all its rare-earth-and-gold-plated glory.  God know's how dirty the electricity was I burned in the process.  I drive perhaps one of the worlds worst vehicle's- a Chevy 3/4 ton Silverado.  No matter what I do, it gets 13 m.p.g.  Cut me some slack, I'm a contractor, and you can't put a 40' ladder on a Prius (an environmental sham anyways).  My point is- once this monster is built, once you let the genii out, how do you contain them?  Is the watershed and its destruction worth $20+ trillion?  To whom?  After all, while the state of Alaska, and the US would see some minor benefits in jobs and taxation, the major players are not US entities.  Canada, the UK, Japan and others will see the bulk of trillions in profits- Trillions with a capital T. They are not running a charity.  And again, once you let the genie out of the bottle...

When you build 200 culvert bridges across creeks and rivers, which allow sand and sediment to clog spawning gravel...

When you build a pipeline, which likewise crosses creeks and rivers and dumps tons of sand and silt over spawning gravel, then breaks and poisons the streams it crosses....

When the trucks transporting ore break, or spill, and continuously discharge exhaust and effluent.....

When ships in the harbor (newly built in wilderness) sink in a storm yet to be foreseen...

You get my drift.  We all live downstream, and if the Pebble Mine is built, we will all live downstream of it.  The waters, that is, not of the profits, which all seem to flow conveniently upstream.

So do it- donate your dollars.  You're probably better off donating to Bobby's college fund.  He'll pay off his college loans (about the time of his death) much faster than you'll save any salmon.  But at least you can say you died trying.


  1. Well said my friend! We all live downstream...words more people need to understand the meaning of.

    ...saw the news on the nickel mine up in your part of the world. not good. hopefully those coasters are a hearty lot...

  2. Well done. And here is a creative way to die trying: Tying -->

  3. Thank you Sanders, and thank you EMB! Sanders- the coasters here are very fragile, and won't survive the onslaught. EMB-I will go back and re-read that. I've read it already, and don't remember a thing about it.

  4. Still for a good cause, but in my silliness (more coffee needed this afternoon)...I moved B.C. to Alaska. ;)

  5. e.m.b.- coffee is always a forgivable excuse. Don't go, we need you.

  6. Way to keep it real. It's sad but true. Money is power, and when there's that much at stake the people who don't have much are powerless. We can only hope that they do what they do in as responsible a way as possible.

  7. There is an overwhelming sadness that creeps over me every time I read more about the Pebble Mine. It makes me wonder how "we" lost our way in differentiating between good and bad, right or wrong, goodness and evil.

  8. Great post. Our world is changing fast and the death of 1000 cuts is reality. I have posted about Pebble Mine and The Sacred Headwaters in B.C. a number of times (another insidious watershed threat). It's the least we can do. We need to face up to the bad, so we can continue to enjoy the good.

  9. I'm 38 years old and have over the course of my life "benefited" from the "development and progress" of our species. But I'm constantly reminded of the sadness I feel when I think not of "what could be lost" BUT WHAT HAS ALREADY BEEN LOST. I will never see streams here in the east brimming with beautiful brook trout nor will I ever get to witness what the plains must have looked like with bison to be seen as far as the horizon or a multitude of other things (and niether will my children). I feel as though people like you and I and others who write such great blogs demonstrating the beauty that surrounds and defines us are riding in the back of a car speeding towards a cliff. We are telling/screaming at the driver (big business, politicians, etc) to slow down and stop. They don't listen because they are too obsessed with the great feeling of speed in the short run and are not thinking about the future and all of those people in the car with them. Until WE get loud enough or get control of the car all that will happen is the car will continue speeding up till....well, I think we all know how that movie will end.