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Clayoquot Dunes

Coastal sand ecosystems are one of the rarest and most threatened ecosystem types in Canada.
SJ-SOCT-8-crop

Depredations of an Industry

May 20th, 2015
FOCS volunteers in a washed out river damaged by past industrial activity.
FOCS volunteers in a washed out river damaged by past industrial activity.

Friends of Clayoquot Sound volunteer Robert Zurowski recently wrote a response to an article supporting mining in Clayoquot Sound. The article suggested that because we use mining products we must support and endorse the industry.  Here is Roberts eloquent response:

“Look beneath the surface and you’ll see that mining has something to do with everything.”   A line often repeated by supporters of the mining industry, but their right.

With over 60 percent of the world’s mining companies listed on Canadian stock exchanges, and about 80 percent of the world’s mining-equity financing occurring here, Canadian mining is a globalized, transnational industry whose tentacles reach almost every continent — often with appalling results. These corporations don’t merely extract minerals from developing nations. Too often it’s at the end of a gun, with their own security forces, paramilitaries and corrupted governments. Yes, looking beneath the surface we see the mining industry has something to do with the violent displacement of indigenous peoples, poverty and misery, despoiled land and climate change.

What’s it all for? Industry supporters point to the newest iPhone, TV, car — all the disposable, factory-made, packaged, transported goods that keep a globalized consumer economy running (and channeling wealth from the global poor to the one percent). Yes, we “need” mines to continue the mindless consumption of everyday products we take for granted. We “need” mines so we can live in suburbs and commute long distances to work alone in our cars, and consume foods from thousands of miles away. We “need” mines because ours is the best of all possible worlds, and there is no conceivable alternative!

Just because someone heats their home and drives to work using oil doesn’t automatically mean they favour industrial extraction. When your livelihood and housing depend on an economy founded upon and structured by the fossil fuel industry; when your government’s policies neglect the development of alternative energies and promote subsidized fossil fuels as the only option; then the ordinary person hardly stands a chance at fossil-fuel independence.

Ultimately, both national environmental policies and local conservation efforts are needed to overcome our industrial addictions. Meanwhile, don’t fall for the “blame the victim” industry supporters try to imply: that it’s you and me as consumers who create this global mess. That’s what corporations want us to think: that Third-World poverty, oil dependency and climate disruption aren’t due to mining’s global extractive activities, they’re due to consumer choices.

Fortunately, people are becoming aware of the mining industry’s depredations. We’ll never forget the Mount Polley mine disaster — just one more payment against the price for our alleged “need” of mines.

-Robert Zurowski, Ucluelet

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