With fires raging in Australia, Africa, Indonesia and the Amazon, it is irresponsible for any newspaper, elected official, private industry or senior level bureaucrat to be promoting increased mining without ensuring it is fully carbon neutral during this time of climate change crisis.

Make no mistake, we are a world in crisis and the worst is yet to come. 

A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) loadmaster watches as pallets of fire suppressant is loaded onto an Australian C-17 Globemaster III Jan. 16 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. Dene Elder Francois Paulette said in accepting the Order of Canada he intends to focus on climate change, and sees more catastrophes like the Australian wildfires happening in the next five years, columnist Nancy Vail writes.
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jeremy Wentworth

And here in the NWT, we know that when senior level bureaucrats slide from senior positions in mining companies into senior level government positions, all chances for healthy, objective governing is gone.

We are one step up from a banana republic.

When government leaders from around the world gathered in Davos, Switzerland on January 20 for the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman said in his opening address said that “adherence to the current economic system represents a betrayal of future generations owing to its environmental unsustainability.” 

And in his new year’s address, Fort Smith’s own Mark Carney, now the United Nations’ special envoy on climate action and climate finance, said we are in a climate crisis and, like managing a financial crisis, the disclosures of climate risk must become comprehensive. Climate risk management needs to be transformed and investing for a net-zero world must become mainstream.

Finally, while accepting the Order of Canada, Dene Elder Francois Paulette said that his focus is also now on climate change and warned us to prepare for catastrophic occurrences in the next five years.

Yet mining companies in the territories continue to eye and get approval for expansion because of the mistaken notion that mining will somehow save us and some newspapers and elected officials support that stance. This is not only irresponsible it is morally wrong. 

In the meantime, Australia burns from drought conditions which is certainly climate related and coal combustion of which mining plays a part is a huge source of GHGs which cause climate change.  

We need not offer editorial comment on where the companies wanting to expand mining activities here come from, we can say that firefighters from the North and other parts of Canada have gone to their country to fight fires and the federal government is looking to build 14 new water bombers to help during their fire seasons. Further, the provinces are considering bringing another 14 moth-balled water bombers out of storage to participate in that crisis. 

We are glad to do it. It’s the Canadian way. 

Please do not think that the income tax paid by the people who work at the mines goes to the Northwest Territories. Only a very small portion does. Most of that money goes to the provinces where the majority of the workers come from. And while it is assumed that the mines are paying taxes to offset the territories’ budgetary spending, that is simply not true. Their accounting departments work over time looking for tax loopholes with the result that they contribute little to our operating expenses. Don’t be fooled. This is the one percent at work and they are not here for the public good.

In much the same way that the first colonizers offered colourful beads, trinkets and alcohol to our First Nations people in exchange for furs, the mines now donate money to non-profits in a display of goodwill and community spirit. It’s all for the sake of public image and good public relations and has little to do with sustainable development or the creation of a healthy environment. Different toys, same game. We are being bought and dragged into an artificially created economy that digs massive holes in this beautiful and precious life-giving earth to produce a few pieces of polished rock. 

Diamonds are not a girl’s best friend. A healthy mother earth is.

This is not to say that all mining is bad; at best, it is misguided and in terms of cost-benefit analysis. Only mining that can contribute to healing our planet and helping us move toward a green economy should be pursued. And the training and jobs that we should be talking about if we hope to survive as a species is recycling, green energy and infrastructure repair.

 During this time of climate crisis, are we seriously taking the steps we need for long-term survival or are we still living for short-term pleasure and gain?

We can be an intelligent species if we choose to be and as such, we should only be taking those actions that future generations will thank us for.

Gaping holes in a fractured earth will not be one of them. 

Postscript: Just because we have always done something one way doesn’t mean it’s right.


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