The Importance of Ecosystem

As I have sat here at the Ecumenical Conference on Mining, listening to people from Canada and around the world talking about the impacts of mining, one thing has come home to roost very firmly with me. And that is the interconnectedness of all things in our environments.

Call it an ecosystem, biosphere, environment. All words come to mind when I think about this. But the reality is that mining affects it all. From deforestation to tailings ponds to chemical spills to the forced relocation of people living on land that happens to contain minerals and oil, mining has negative impacts on the whole of the world around.

This is something that I intellectually understood. But it wasn’t something I thought about particularly as I fill up my car at the gas station, or look at purchasing a new lens for my camera.

And yet, being here, hearing about and seeing photos of the devastation that is brought to the places where mining happens, I am faced with the reality that my lifestyle contributes to this. Perhaps I need to have a picture of a denuded mountain, of a child with cyanide and lead poisoning from drinking the local water, or a dignified elder holding on to her land in the face of multi-national mining concerns.

The conference has featured stunning photographs by Allan Lissner- photos of people from around the world who are impacted by mining work. The pictures are not only beautiful to look at, they also make me stop and think about the story behind each of them every time I walk past the display.  You can see them here.

Partners from Africa, the Americas, and Asia have shown pictures and told stories of Indigenous communities who have been uprooted from their ancestral, sacred land. We have heard about the 1% or less of profits from mining that remain in the communities where the mines reside. We have heard about the damage to the biodiversity of entire regions.

On a personal level, I know that I will be thinking more about these realities as I make decisions about how I consume the resources that God has given into our care. I will continue to try to break out of the cycle of consumption and use, the throw-away society that I am immersed in. And I will continue to share the realities I have learned about with others.

Filed in: Ecological Justice

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