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Human Nature, Corporate Nature & Political Nature…receipe for Environmental Disaster

Human Nature is that component that creates mining with severe environmental loses or allows highly dysfunctional individuals to run amok until they cause severe human losses including death, eg. Bernie Madoff or Chralie Sheen, or the young man who shot Senator Gifford. Corporate Nature is that component that insists upon profits as the only motive and goal of all Corporate decision making e.g. the recent Chilean mining disaster, BP, or Enron and a myriad of other examples. Political Nature is that component that blows with the wind that carries the most financial benefit to the politician (supposedly his constituents) or gets him off the then prevalent “problem of the day” the quickest without the politician having to think of the long term, eg Tom Delay and Jack Abramoff or Gov. Walker in Wisconsi or Pawlenty’s no taxation, while increasing “fees” and doing away with necessary human services. Can you say I-35 bridge collapse. Oh yes that brings up another important component of Human Nature. The Human must deny responsibility for the very nature, his or hers, that has caused the disaster. Absolute denial! You’ll see that in the post of the report on the Chilean mine disaster. The independent report indited the owers as being responsible, they deny it publicly immediately with panache.

We are about 150 years behind in owning up to our human nature to ask more from the environment than we give back. We can no longer take and only put pollutants back into the earth. We MUST STOP. That doesn’t mean we have to stop mining or chemical processing or extracting our presious oil and natural gas. But, it does mean we have to recognize our nature and history for what it is, a VERY poor performance so far, and agree to stop polluting the earth during these processes. Totally STOP!!! We can do it right, but our nature and our history indicate we will not unless every precaution, assurance, and guarantee is in place, with adequate penalties (not our usual political pardons and corporate excuses) are in place so that the human will want to do right, the corporation will only profit by doing so, and we give the politicians all the credit for making it happen.

We are going to follow this post with as many examples of this trifecta, Human, Corporate, and Political nature as we can find. Feel free to contribute what you know or find.

1 comment to Human Nature, Corporate Nature & Political Nature…receipe for Environmental Disaster

  • Elton Brown


    The mining companies and our elected politicians claim that the proposed new copper/nickel mines will be an economic bonanza for the east Iron Range. I don’t buy it!

    Historically, mining has been a boom-and-bust industry. Look around the country at former mining towns and you will see that the long-term economic impact of mining is negative. Why do our elected officials never address the long-term consequences of short-term mining operations?

    Here’s why: because touting job creation is how politicians get elected and re-elected. Certainly there will be a short-term economic benefit from exposing our region to copper/nickel extraction over the next two decades. But what about the loss of tourism jobs that will be threatened by the byproducts of hand-rock sulfide mining (noise, traffic, air and water degradation, loss of valuable wetlands, loss of habitat for wildlife)?

    And as to jobs: only a few hundred (not thousands!), and only for a couple of decades. And those workers won’t be the sons and daughters of Iron Rangers. The mining companies will bring in their teams of highly-trained employees who will run these new high-tech operations until the profitable ore is extracted, and then the companies will move them on to their next locations. Few of those who will be brought to work here will settle here.

    Nor will there be many spin-off jobs, because the precious ore will not be turned into products here but will be shipped off to be processed in other countries such as China and India.

    The mining companies discount long-term environmental concerns as alarmism. A recent guest editorial in the Ely Echo (12/11/10) stated that acid run-off is “preventable with technology that has been proven elsewhere.” Well, show us the proof! It is my understanding that there has yet to be a sulfide mine in a water-rich area that has not eventually resulted in water pollution.

    Are the nonferrous metals that lie underground here at the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness precious? Yes. But I would argue that fresh water is more precious (and, in many places, rarer) than copper, nickel, palladium and even gold!

    The mining corporations are investing heavily in this venture. The Canadian company has secured an IRRB loan to buy land for their mine. The Chilean company is putting up an office building in Ely’s business park. We used to call this speculation. It’s a clever strategy: act as though permission to mine will be given (“build it and they will say Yes”). But the fact that that companies are pouring tons of cash into these proposed projects should not in any way influence the decision to issue permits.

    Bottom line: the mining corporations care about profit, not what they leave behind. They have a lot of money and a lot of clout to get their way. At the very least, then, if they should prevail, we who live here should insist upon three conditions: (1) that they set aside a great amount of money in escrow for cleanup of any acid run-off problems in the next century; (2) that they commit to hiring a minimum percentage of employees locally; and (3) that they promise not to export the precious metals but rather help develop industries to manufacture “Made in Minnesota” products.

    Elton Brown
    Morse Township

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