Press "Enter" to skip to content

Pretending that we’re not here won’t solve our problems

Letter by Lindell Cline

Growth – October 1998 – Colorado Central Magazine

Pretending we aren’t here will not solve our problems

To the Editor:

Regarding the welcome and in some cases reasonable August and September discussion on overpopulation, excessive growth, and mining:

While a person might reasonably support a voluntary reduction in future population growth, although that no longer appears necessary in most countries including this one; I will say to anyone who believes the earth presently has too many people: Go see doctor Kevorkian and it will have one fewer. Put your money where your mouth is. Do your part to reduce the population. If you are not willing to do your part, then keep your mouth shut about overpopulation.

Having been born near Nathrop, I liked the area a good deal better when there were far fewer people, but it offends me to hear all this “let me in and then close the gate behind me” and “not in my backyard” rhetoric, especially by those who pretend it is for the benefit of the environment rather than for their own benefit.

When people speak of “controlled growth” that almost always means they intend to, or hope to, control it, thereby profiting from that growth. “Uncontrolled growth” is any growth others might profit from. Keep that in mind before supporting controlled growth.

We have almost always built our cities in the most environmentally productive areas and we generally continue to do so. The natural environment in those areas has been all but destroyed. Now the people from those cities say that people in rural areas, who have utilized their environment to some extent for generations without destroying it, should leave it alone entirely so that those city people can come out there once or twice a year and keep in touch with nature. I say that if their real concern is the environment, they will return their own areas to nature before they start returning other areas to nature.

Recently a mine was proposed a few miles from Yellowstone National Park. Robert Redford, whom I’m confident spends most of what he earns, or receives, and therefore has a many times greater negative effect on the environment than most Americans, said: I recognize the need for mining, but why put a mine next to Yellowstone? Now I’m sorry, Mr. Redford, but mines aren’t like movie sets. You can’t put them just anywhere you feel like putting them. Mines must be put where there is something worth mining.

Admittedly, the primary metal that would have been mined is gold. About half of all the gold that has ever been mined is simply gathering dust in vaults somewhere so that governments can pretend their monetary systems are secure. Most of the rest is used for ornamentation, status symbols or speculation. So I can see no compelling reason to mine more gold, now or in the near future. However, I’m sure the company owned the land. Even if it didn’t, it certainly owned the mineral rights and had every legal right to mine it. As I understand it, the mine wouldn’t have been seen from any part of Yellowstone, nor would it have been likely to have a significant effect on any part of Yellowstone. Even if it could have been seen, Yellowstone covers an area larger than two of our states combined so it isn’t as if people couldn’t get away from the mine and still enjoy Yellowstone. Besides, no matter where a mine was proposed, people would be lined up protesting it; including, in all probability, Mr. Redford.

Although mining has a poor environmental reputation, much of it deserved, just about everything you use that hasn’t been grown or pumped from the ground was mined. Little could be pumped from the ground without using things that were mined. Growing things would be exceedingly inefficient by modern standards without using things that were mined. Unless you want to go back to living in caves or trees and digging for grubs under the bushes — and unless you believe you would be one of the few to survive such a change — you would do well not to oppose responsible mining. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t oppose raping the earth for short term gain, but that era is largely a thing of the past.

Like it or not, the earth has nearly six billion people. It is not likely to have fewer than that any time soon. Few of them want to die. Most of them want the same things the environmentalists already have. If efforts to protect the environment are to be successful, they must be taken within the light of those realities. Pretending we are not here will not protect the environment. Pretending the other person is the problem will not solve the problem. Leaving renewable resources such as forests unused will not solve the problem. Nor will setting aside ever larger areas, supposedly forever, solve the problem. How long those areas will actually remain set aside will depend entirely on how badly we need them for other purposes. If you don’t believe that, you have never been hungry. Once the sanctity of those areas is breached it is highly likely that fewer areas will remain set aside than would be the case had fewer areas been set aside to start with.

Let’s work on reasonable solutions and stop listening to people who have their own piece of the environment staked out and want to keep everyone else out of their area and public land as well.

Lindell Cline Buena Vista