We so smart we kill our world and don’t even know it—Part Forever

Forrest Johnson

Mount Polley tailings pond breach. CFJC News Canada
Mount Polley tailings pond breach. CFJC News Canada

Man has gone and done it once again. Just when you think you can develop a modern, safe, environmentally pleasing copper-nickel/precious metals mine the whole thing falls apart and sends a flood of toxic waste downstream.
We sure can convince ourselves that we’re smart enough to mine copper-nickel disaster free.

We so smart. 
In the watershed of the Fraser River in British Columbia , which happens to be the largest sockeye salmon fishery in Canada , a batch of lead and cadmium and other heavy metals was let loose after an unexpected August 2014 rain event swelled the waste basin to the brim. The earthen dam was simply overwhelmed and that fishery will now have to deal with the stigma that the fish may be contaminated now and into the future.

Recently the supporters of copper-nickel mining in Minnesota finally acknowledged the disaster and said they wouldn’t allow that to happen here in this state.

Not here.

Even though the same waste containment regimes have been proposed.

We’re smarter than that here.

Our regulations are tough. Real tough.
We won’t let that happen in Minnesota , they say. 

Project supporters said the same thing in Canada , according to scientists assessing the damage for EnvironmentCanada, that nation’s EPA. The waste basin was engineered to withstand the harsh northern British Columbia weather but a rain event like those rain events we’re seeing more and more often these days doomed their predictions of a safe, clean mine in a place where people value the environment more than, say, the Chinese.

Mining supporters are always picking on the Chinese or some other less developed nation with the red herring argument that we should mine in Minnesota where the environment will be protected, not devastated, when everybody knows that those global mining giants will mine wherever there’s money to be made and a willing ore body is available.

In other words, they aren’t going to suspend mining operations across the developing world just because they’ve decided to zero in on the Duluth Complex in northeastern Minnesota .

We just think we so smart. We so smart we might even believe we can mine copper-nickel without harming the environment even a little bit. We so smart.
This smart thinking has happened forever, of course, especially since the industrial revolution kicked in. We so smart, we can handle the byproducts of a very smart society. First, we dump waste into a hole in the ground or into the rivers, lakes and oceans. When that hole fills up or the river catches fire or the fish die and people start getting sick move to Plan B.

Smart societies always have Plan B.
In the meantime, Superfund sites are all over the countryside. There may be a Superfund site near you. Of course there is. A majority of Americans now live within 20 miles of a nationally recognized Superfund site. 
We so smart.

We so smart, nuclear energy was developed based on the fact that we so smart, of course we’ll figure out a way to deal with plutonium and its million-year half life. In the meantime, entomb those spent fuel rods in concrete and whatever you do don’t take one of those fuel rods out of the water even for a minute. Be smart. Don’t do that.

We so smart, here we are 60-70 years later and still without a clue of what to do about radioactive waste.

We so smart.

We so smart we’ve now succumbed to a farming model that poisons the very soil we grow our food in. Man, that smart! Put poison in ground along with seeds, grow that food or food product and then eat it keeping fingers crossed that bad food doesn’t harm the population.

We so smart.

We so smart we can pump chemicals into deep wells to force crude oil out of shale and be energy independent and not see any potential side effect at all! Pump chemicals into the ground and nothing bad will happen now and in the future. Amazing. 
So now we so smart we actually believe that we can protect the environment and dig a mine that will need more than 6500 acres of public land and water treatment for 500 hundred years. We so smart we trade jobs for a future problem, likely for our grandkids or their grandkids. We so smart you watch, mine will get permits then mining company that has never mined anything will sell off to foreign backers who will hold rights to mine until price is right, which may be a long, long time given the fact that ore body only holds one percent grade ore and 99 percent overburden and waste. You think you’ve seen large tailings piles on the Iron Range, wait until you see those tailings piles. We so smart, maybe we should build ski hill on them and get more than a single use out of them.

Yes, it’s all about the money.   

We so smart.

We just so darn smart we can fool ourselves into thinking that we can do anything as long as there’s money involved.

Money, money, money.
Money just money. Can’t take it with you. Money not smart.

We dumb.