not out of sight anymore

Forced confinement in an uncomfortably small space often sparks at least a perfunctory commiserative comment to your fellow inmates.

Forced confinement in an uncomfortably small space often sparks at least a perfunctory commiserative comment to your fellow inmates.

A brief word or nod of agreement from a seatmate followed by a return to their book or paper will likely silence any further attempts at conversation for the duration of a plane ride.

Occasionally these opening statements do spark interesting conversations, which then invariably seem to help push the jet to its destination more swiftly.

On one leg of a recent spate of holiday flights the seat lottery strapped an engineer into the aisle seat next to mine.

This fellow had worked at mine sites around the world over the course of his career. His experiences sparked a round of anecdotes on our mutual travels.

He clearly won out in the end on the basis of the sheer number of countries he had worked in.

Engineers, and people generally in the earth sciences, have over the last couple of decades developed a growing awareness of and advocacy for the environment.

Environmentalism is certainly no longer the monopoly of social science and humanities types. This fellow fit the bill.

When I learned of his travels to Peru, I mentioned recent concern expressed about a Canadian mining venture in the central Andes where high levels of lead from a smelter had caused an epidemic of lead poisoning.

He trumped my tale by recounting his visit to a site where exposed tailing piles at a mine not far from Lima leached an impressive quantity of acidic, orange-red runoff.

This toxic waste flowed into a tributary of the Rimac River and right on through the heart of the country’s capital city.

He capped our conversation with an account of a short contract he had had in the Czech Republic.

On his first visit to the mine he noticed a strong odour coming from one of the stopes. The former state bureaucrat who had managed take over control of this recently privatized mine said that he ran the sewage from a nearby municipal waterworks, which he also now owned, through the mine then out into the local river.

My travel companion told the owner that this was a real problem. The former bureaucrat-turned-entrepreneur took him a few kilometres upstream to where an aluminum smelter was dumping its sludge into the same river from huge pipes.

The newly minted mine owner said that his waste didn’t compare to that at all. My fellow passenger said that he was happy to leave that mess behind.

Essentially, though, we can’t leave messes behind any more. There is no behind. The faraways and out of sights are now at our front door.

We, as humankind, are belatedly recognizing that our irresponsible actions have costs that we or our descendants will all pay for one way or another.

Whether it is at BYG’s Mt. Nansen site here in the Yukon or at a diamond mine in Sierra Leone, the impacts on the human and physical environment can no longer be ignored.

They must be weighed into the economic equation of the viability of any mining venture now in order to make sense and cents.

Have a look short Development and Peace issue sheets Riches that Impoverish and Corporate Social Responsibility on their website for further information on their Life before Profit campaign.

Upstairs at the Alpine Bakery (411 Alexander) this Friday, January 12, 2007 at 8 p.m. the film Sipakapa no se vende (Sipakapa is not for sale) will be shown.

It will be the first of a winter Social Justice Film series.

This film depicts a Guatemalan community’s response to a Canadian mining project’s threatened impact on it.

I hear a speaker might introduce the film with a reflection on a local parallel to this cautionary story from Central America.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Premier Sandy Silver speaks to media after delivering the budget in the legislature in Whitehorse on March 4. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Territorial budget predicts deficit of $12.7 million, reduced pandemic spending in 2021-2022

If recovery goes well, the territory could end up with a very small surplus.

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25 after two masked men entered a residence, assaulted a man inside with a weapon and departed. (Black Press file)
Two men arrested after Dawson City home invasion

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25.… Continue reading

Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn speaks to reporters at a news conference in Whitehorse on Dec. 21, 2017. New ATIPP laws are coming into effect April 1. (Chris Windeyer/Yukon News file)
New access to information laws will take effect April 1

“Our government remains committed to government openness and accountability.”

City council meeting in Whitehorse on Feb. 8. At Whitehorse city council’s March 1 meeting, members were presented with a bylaw that would repeal 10 bylaws deemed to be redundant or out of date. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Out with the old

Council considers repealing outdated bylaws

A bobcat is used to help clear snow in downtown Whitehorse on Nov. 4. According to Environment Canada, the Yukon has experienced record-breaking precipitation this year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon will have “delayed spring” after heavy winter snowfall

After record levels of precipitation, cold spring will delay melt

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Public Health Nurse Angie Bartelen at the Yukon Convention Centre Clinic in Whitehorse on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
State of emergency extended for another 90 days

“Now we’re in a situation where we see the finish line.”

RCMP Online Crime Reporting website in Whitehorse on March 5. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Whitehorse RCMP launch online crime reporting

Both a website and Whitehorse RCMP app are now available

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

A rendering of the Normandy Manor seniors housing facility. (Photo courtesy KBC Developments)
Work on seniors housing project moves forward

Funding announced for Normandy Manor

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Most Read