Bill Taylor: No free lunch
October 1, 2018
I understand that many look forward to the day they can drive their all electric car and be closer to being off the power grid. A few now claim to be off the grid in their homes, because they are not hooked up to electricity.
Unfortunately, unless we live in a cave using stone tools, we are all dependent on the mining/industrial complex. As the miner's bumper sticker says, "if it’s not grown, it comes from a mine.” In other words, except for things made from wood, cotton or rubber, every component of our houses, cars, computers, phones, roads, bridges, bikes starts from products of mines.
This is no small amount. It is estimated 14 billion tons of materials are mined worldwide to keep our modern world going. We, of course, are also dependent upon oil and gas.
A recent letter to the editor referred to the amount, $796 million, that is contributed to Colorado's economy by oil and gas development, but refers to it being sent out of state. We obviously use much of it here.
In advanced countries, we try to do this material extraction in a safe and responsible manner. Too much restriction of extraction in modern countries can lead to this being done dangerously and irresponsibly elsewhere.
One current example, pointed out in the September issue of Fortune magazine, is what's going on now in the mining of cobalt, a critical element used in batteries for such things as cellphones, computers, electric cars and parts in solar panels. The Congo supplies about half the world’s supply. Some is mined responsibly, but much is mined by children in crude dangerous mines.
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It is easy to develop the NIMBY — not in my backyard — approach to all of this. However, this is a sort of sticking our head in the sand approach.
To the anti-everything crowd, I would ask you to consider these things as you live in a dwelling made from and heated by these products, use your phones and computers to coordinate your protest and drive or bike to these events in vehicles produced by the extraction industries.
Many work to develop a smaller personal footprint when it comes to the amount of resources used in our daily lives, which is good. However, it is often the wealthiest amongst us, who, while using large amounts of resources themselves, ask society to use less.