North of 60 Mining News - The mining newspaper for Alaska and Canada's North

By J. P. Tangen
Special to Mining News 

Alaskans are being greenwashed - again

Mark Twain allegedly said: "There are lies, damned lies and statistics," but somehow, I think he missed a few environmentalists North of 60 Mining News – May 6, 2022

 

Last updated 5/12/2022 at 3:01pm

A stylized adobestock picture of the word greenwashing on paper in a typewriter.

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When I first heard the term "greenwashed," I naturally assumed that it referred to the endless stream of misrepresentations that the American Environmental Industry dumps on a gullible public as part of its fundraising technique. When I looked into it, however, I discovered that it was a pejorative intended by professional Environmentalists to attack other industrial sectors who represented that their various products were somehow more environmentally friendly than their competitors. On reflection, it is clear that the term is actually neutral; it is a shoe that can be worn on either foot.

When it comes to resource development, of course there are environmental impacts; however, as with every other commodity, proponents are highly motivated to put their best spin on whatever they are trying to sell, and competitors are likewise motivated to detract from whatever is said for their own personal advantage.

In this age of unqualified social media, the metaphor of a rising tide lifting all of the boats seems to suggest that we are all afloat above anchor depth.

It is blatantly obvious that everything we have and everything that we touch must either be mined or grown. Tens of millions of people around the globe are starving, yet there are those who would condemn farmers. Homelessness is a crisis in many cities in America, yet there are those who would ban logging. America is proud to give guns and ammunition to patriotic Ukrainians, but every missile or cannon started life in a hole in the ground.

Almost any logger will tell you that old-growth timber is not the lungs of the world or the exclusive habitat of spotted owls. Alaskan miners don't need to be reminded that ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance Criteria) is a cost of doing business. Protecting the environment, supporting the community and sound, socially positive business practices are integral to safe and environmentally appropriate operations.

What is most curious, however, is that everyone seems to insist on seeing the world through their own microscope, with no objective reference point.

No one can fault differences of opinion. We live with it every day. That's what lawsuits and horse races are all about. On the other hand, when a point of view becomes so pervasive that it weakens our prosperity, it needs to be objectively evaluated.

Protecting the environment is a good thing; however, in the greater scheme of things, do we really need to live in trees and eat snakes in order to protect the environment?

Although it is a little unclear, it appears that hominids crossed out of Africa perhaps as many as a million and a half years ago, and we seem to have a pretty good handle on what are now called modern humans for the past 200,000 years at least.

We even have a pretty good idea as to when a lot of folks gave up on the hunting and gathering lifestyle in order to domesticate mammals and plant crops. Those developments probably occurred within the past 10,000 years – plus or minus.

What is intriguing, I think, is that it appears that for about 190,000 years, we hominids were perfectly happy eating what we killed without the benefit of any tools beyond the random rock or stick.

Have we made "progress" in the most recent 10,000 years? If so, do we concur that such progress is a good thing? Is there some "progress" that we should turn our backs on? Fire? Literacy? Antibiotics?

As for me, I basically enjoy those things that beneficiation of natural resources has brought to my front door, and I suspect that virtually everyone else on the planet likes to sleep in a warm bed with a full stomach.

My point is and always remains the same. The things we eat must be grown. The things we use must, generally, come for one or more mines somewhere. And believe it or not, there is waste and even pollutants like carbon dioxide as a basic result of hominids planting seeds and drilling for oil.

Arguments for minimizing pollution indubitably are meritorious, but policies that demand sacrificing our tools and toys and our cornucopia of comestibles are foolish.

Mining, like farming and logging, palpably benefit us all. That is what ESG should be all about.

 

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