Since the dawn of the upright ape the human species has been digging. Our ancestors didn’t used to call it mining back then of course. Most likely it was called “Ugga bugga booga wogga”, but it was the birth of modern mining technology nonetheless.
At first, the hairy bipeds got down on their hands and knees and dug caves, hunting for some cool rocks to make tools from. Later came the harnessing of dinosaur power and the all mighty wheel that enabled them to create massive open-pit mines like the one Fred Flintstone worked in.
As technology became more sophisticated and the knowledge of what shape of mine would avoid the painful and often fatal problem of collapse, civilization became more daring. Humanity dug bigger and deeper holes on the endless quest for more and more shiny things and others not so shiny but infinitely useful, until the industrial revolution brought us even more powerful boring and transporting machinery.
Today we have all sorts of mines: surface mines, open-pit mines, underground mines, mountain-top mines, drilling on land, drilling at sea, fracking, and quite recently deep ocean mining— the most dangerous and unnecessary digging obsession ever! Right on track for the extinction of The Papua New Guinea Pig and likely the source of life on Earth.
Every single modern mining operation has destroyed ecosystems and has polluted land, air, and water. Countless mines have caused various forms of death for those working the sites: either suddenly through the big-rock-small-head syndrome, or not so suddenly as in you-are-trapped-with-no-air quandary, or slow agonizing death through heavy metal poisoning or cancers with the really-the-effluents-were-safe-at-that-ppm-exposure fallacy.
The logic corporations use to just keep digging is that our population is growing and we must satisfy the needs of all those billions wanting to live the unsustainable lifestyle that westerners enjoy, but are still not happy with. Hmmm.
But do we really need more? Or are we suffering from a profit-seeking paradigm that needs a sanity check?
The concept that needs expand to fill all available supply is what brought about the consolidation of the steel industry into United States Steel as quoted from Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill: “by cheapening the cost of steel…an ever expanding market would be created; more uses for steel would be devised, and a goodly portion of the world trade could be captured.”
Is this the philosophy that is really driving the new gold rush…deep sea mining?
If we must absolutely keep treating our planet as the Avatar Pandora until we finally get our act together, I vote for sticking to land-based mines at ground level or below and letting our mountain streams and our oceans live. What about you?
But ultimately (within the next 10 years I would say), if we still wish to satisfy our digging urges lest we perish at the seashore with empty pail and shovel in hand, how about trying the following places?
- mining our minds for ideas on how to live symbiotically with the planet
- sifting our landfills for iron, copper, rare earth metals, iron, nickel, …. you name it…it’s in there
- salvaging the garbage at the bottom of the oceans
- sending all our obsolete electronics back to the manufacturers
- collecting the old rusty cars that pile up on country properties
- bringing back quality manufacturing to avoid the garbage cycle in the first place
- …any other profitable business ideas you can think of?
If your heels feel the urge to hit the pavement right now by all means do so.
You might not have direct influence over the mine down the street but you can take inventory of all the “stuff” you have (yes, the stuff hiding in storage, in closets, and even under the beds) and honestly evaluate whether you really need them. Then decide and commit to that decision to donate or sell all those space hogs at a ridiculously low price. Voilà!
And if an item screams out and pleads in sheer panic: “Please! Oh pretty please not me! I promise I’ll be useful. Just give me one more chance”, just ignore it like you would your neighbour’s leaf blower at 6AM on a Sunday morning. Serenity now.
Scrape its clutching tentacles off your pants and throw it into the pile. It can go prove its worth somewhere else. Just make sure you keep at least one good pair of heels though.
Pavements everywhere beware. Muahahaha.