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

Throne speech promises COVID-19 support, childcare, internet upgrades

Yukon premier said he is “cautiously optimistic” about many commitments

Culture Days comes back to Whitehorse with in-person activities, events

Clay sculpting, poetry readings, live music, moose hide tanning, photo walks and… Continue reading

Business relief program expanded, TIA told travel restrictions likely to remain until spring

The Yukon government has extended the business relief program

Driver wanted in alleged gun-pointing incident in downtown Whitehorse

The suspects fled to the Carcross area where the driver escaped on foot


Wyatt’s World for Sept. 25, 2020

Canada Games Centre could get new playground

Council to vote on contract award

City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Harescramble brings out motorcycle community

This year’s event included 67 riders

YG seeks members for youth climate change panel

“Yukon youth deserve to have their voices heard”

Yukon NDP hold AGM

This year’s meeting was held virtually

Watson Lake man arrested on cocaine charge

Calvin Pembleton, 53, is facing multiple charges

Liard First Nation’s language department receives literacy award

Decades of work has made Kaska language available to many

Yukon government releases new guidelines for COVID-19 symptoms and sending children to school

The advice sorts symptoms into three categories: red, yellow and green

Most Read