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By J. P. Tangen
Special to Mining News 

Environmentalists spawn shades of green

Here's wishing everyone the best of the New Year and for the next gen that will guide us through our pending challenges North of 60 Mining News – January 5, 2024

 

Last updated 1/17/2024 at 11:45am

People gathered around a table covered with a mat that says, “THINK GREEN!”

Summit Art Creations via Adobe Stock

The green movement seems to be dividing into three major subsets that range from hardline environmentalists to those who believe any mining carried out for modern living needs to be carried out in a technologically sound way.

For those who pay attention to such things, it appears that a new invasive species of environmentalism has crept onto the scene. I count it as an inevitable evolution of the movement, inasmuch as the deep thinkers on the subject apparently have identified schisms in their religious beliefs.

For the past several decades, it was sufficient to be a banana Greenie – those who are basically against anything, anytime, anywhere. They were quite predictable, especially when it comes to mining.

Generally, their minions have demanded public hearings on everything, shown up in droves, filed written protests by the pound, initiated time-consuming specious litigation against well-designed projects, cut sue-and-settle deals with the Department of Justice and collected tons of contributions from pensioners who have little knowledge about the subject matter and live far away from the affected area.

Now, it seems the new generation of obstruct-icrats are mushrooming into at least three subsets: true believers or dark green Greenies; light green Greenies (not to be confused with lite green Greenies, which is a deprecatory term for enterprises that argue that what they are doing, they are doing to protect the environment, like mining copper for wind turbines); and bright green Greenies who seem to think that since we need things like cell phones and computers, we probably need to mine but in a technologically sound way.

Personally, I always seek to view such things from the 30,000-foot level. If I look at controversy from street level, it becomes too easy to get caught up in the brawl instead of perceiving the context.

The Alaska miners I know have zero interest in polluting the air, water or land where they work. Of course, it sometimes is a matter of definition. For instance, the generation of tailings is integral to mining; however, is a tailings pile automatically pollution, even if it is properly lined and curbed? The answer, it seems, depends on whether you live closer to the Atlantic Ocean than the Bering Sea.

Nonetheless, if you are having stomach problems and need a good emetic, I can recommend adding Bright Green Lies by Derrick Jensen et al. to your reading list.

It is described as "a critical look at the modern environmental movement and the promises of green, renewable technology." I would, however, recommend borrowing it from the library rather than wasting $13.63 on Amazon.

One of the things I enjoy at this time each year is writing the obituary of the environmental movement. Like so many of the other political movements that have plagued our country over the past 250 years, this too shall pass.

While there is nothing wrong with environmental protection, there is something wrong with being obsessive about it. Clearly, the law of unanticipated consequences comes into play at some point.

Witness our dependence on foreign sources for critical minerals – minerals that we have in abundant supply waiting to be developed here at home.

Witness our unwillingness to induce the suppliers of such critical minerals to exercise reasonable social and humanitarian policies in recovering them from third-world jurisdictions.

Witness our economic policies that facilitate China's ability to subsidize its industries to the detriment of our domestic counterparts.

As we turn the pages of the calendar to 2024, it is a good time to reflect on where we want to be next year and ten years from now.

We have a Presidential election in the fall, which may influence American evolution over the next decade. The likely contenders are in their eighties and bear the scars of all that has occurred since World War II – Korea, Viet Nam, Afghanistan, Women's Liberation, Black Lives Matter, Hip Hop, Roe v. Dobbs, melting glaciers and much more.

Irrespective of who wins in the fall as he does the four-score-shuffle away from the podium, we must brace ourselves for a new generation of leaders who very soon will use their best efforts to weaponize the tools of government for their own purposes.

The next decade is actually full of promise. Climate change is a given, but that may mean a lot more wetlands and shorefront property. Technological innovation will explode at an astounding rate.

As a kid, I had a magic eight-ball that would answer any question. Today, we have artificial intelligence. AI purports to consider data and other available evidence from a large variety of sources rapidly and precisely – and is right about 80% of the time. (My magic eight ball, by contrast, was right only about 12.5% of the time.)

From the 30,000-foot level, however, it is obvious that America will stand strong as the leader of the free world in economic and humanitarian initiatives; that our private sector will develop technological tools to improve the quality of life of our citizens and citizen wannabes; and that at some point we will acknowledge that the environment is a three-dimensional construct, not limited to a surface footprint.

 

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