Greenland’s ice and glaciers are melting fast, exposing ultra-rare minerals and gems deposits like no other on the entire planet. Gold, diamonds, coal, uranium, possibly oil and gas, and rare-earth metals (a very rare mineral-ore used to make cell phones) are among the many riches to be dug up.
A mining boom is about to completely change the island forever. We’re witnessing it right now. Glaciers are melting, exposing rock underneath that is packed with profits.
This means a tidal wave of money is about to crush centuries of culture, tradition, and local community. Many locals can’t wait for it to happen.
These screens are clipped from this fantastic article covering the economic boom Greenland is about to experience due to the big melt. It’s a beautifully shot video. And these pics do not do it justice. Have a look.
This could be momentous for Greenland, which has long relied on half a billion dollars a year in welfare payments from Denmark, its parent state. Mining profits could help Greenland become economically self sufficient, and may someday even render it the first sovereign nation created by global warming.
In Mongolia, Climate Change and Mining Boom Threaten National Identity
Nearly 40 percent of Mongolians are herders whose livelihoods are irrevocably intertwined with their environment. Herding has been an economic and cultural mainstay of rural life since the days of Genghis Khan. Children as young as five race horses for miles across open grassland in the Naadam, Mongolia’s annual national festival. The winning jockeys are celebrated and the winning horses idolized. Mongolia’s reverence for its nomadic roots extends all the way to its 20-year-old constitution, which enshrines livestock as “national wealth” to be protected by the state. But today, the livelihoods of families reliant on grazing livestock are under threat from a climate that is becoming increasingly harsh and unpredictable. Mongolia is feeling the effects of climate change “perhaps more rapidly than any other place in the world,” proclaimed the vice chairman of parliament this year. Desertification is driving the Gobi Desert to expand by 10,000 square kilometers every year – enough to fit the state of Delaware two times over. Compounded by increasingly harsh winter storms, the changing climate is driving herders to relocate to Ulan Bator and other cities in search of better opportunities. That migration is adding to sprawling slums, cook stove-driven air pollution, and a public health crisis that the president himself has called a “disaster.” These changes are set to have a uniquely powerful impact on a national identity that is interwoven with the herding tradition.
This is a true game-changer. The arctic is doomed.
The voyage highlights how China, the world’s no.2 economy, is extending its reach to the Arctic which is rich in oil and gas and is a potential commercial shipping route between the north Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
The icebreaker Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, arrived in Iceland this week after sailing the Northern Route along the coast of Russia.
Expedition leader Huigen Yang, head of the Polar Research Institute of China, said he had expected a lot more ice along the route at this time of year than the vessel encountered.
“To our astonishment … most part of the Northern Sea Route is open,” he told Reuters TV. The icebreaker would return to China by a route closer to the North Pole.
He said that Beijing was interested in the “monumental change” in the polar environment caused by global warming.
Police officers shredded mining protesters with assault rifles, killing nearly twenty people. Reuters posted a (warning: very graphic) video of the killings earlier today. The incident happened in South Africa near a mine that produces the metal platinum. Workers have been protesting since January, demanding safer working conditions and better pay.
A police spokesperson blundered through an interview with the local South African press - a press, it must be added, that has shown no interest in the protesters’ demands or plight.
South African police open fire on striking miners at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine, leaving several bloodied corpses lying on the ground.
A Reuters cameraman says he saw at least seven bodies after the shooting, which occurred when police laying out barricades of barbed wire were outflanked by some of an estimated 3,000 miners massed on a rocky outcrop near the mine, northwest of Johannesburg.
How cool is this! And it’s threatened by Pebble Mine, a proposed gold and copper mine that would be the biggest in the world. The National Resources Defense Council is kicking their ass, but they need your help.
Add this to your list of cool things we didn’t previously know about nature: Scientists working in the Wood River watershed of Southwest Alaska found that salmon play an important role in pollinating a flowering plant. How? Kneeling angelica, a 3-6 foot streamside plant, has evolved to bloom about a week after salmon return to a stream to spawn, at which point many of the salmon die or are consumed by bears and other critters. Blowflies, who pollinate the flowers by swarming the blooms, then lay eggs in the decomposing carcasses of the salmon. Those larvae emerge as adults the following year just in time to pollinate the flowers again.
Activists murdered and detained during Peru protest
July 05, 2012
At least three people have been killed and 20 injured during clashes between security forces and demonstrators protesting a planned US$4.8 billion gold mine by US-based Newmont in northern Peru.
A 17-year-old was among those dead, and 15 people were also arrested at the Conga mining project, Cajamarca region prosecutor Esperanza Leon told RPP radio.
More than 1,000 protesters threw stones at government offices in the town of Celendin, and police responded by firing tear gas and using their batons to disperse the crowd, local media reported.
During the scuffle, two police officers were wounded by “guns fired by protesters who were trying to take over Celendin,” the interior ministry said in a statement. It accused the demonstrators of committing “criminal acts.”
The Peruvian government declared a state of emergency in Cajamarca, suspending freedom of assembly, the inviolability of the home and freedom of movement. It also mobilized the military to support police operations.
Monday in the mine: Gold miners form a human chain to toss large rocks out of a new pit mine near the aborted Myitsone Dam project in northern Burma. In order to force local Kachin villagers to relocate from the dam area, the Myanmar government outlawed private gold mining, instead giving the mining concessions in the area to outside companies. These miners are neither locals nor ethnic Kachins, just miners from other parts of the country brought in to work.
They’ll probably win their request. They also ask the Canadian government to ban prayers and children’s plays at public hearings. The mining company states that permit review should only include “objective facts.” They have a point.
A new federal environmental review panel “does not have any right to attribute significance to the spirituality of a place per se,” wrote Taseko Mines Ltd. president Russell Hallbauer in a letter obtained under the Access to Information Act and provided to The Vancouver Sun by B.C. independent provincial representative Bob Simpson.
Last year, the mining company was denied a mining permit. The company went to court to force the government to reconsider the permit, but lost. But, all is not lost for the poor mining company! In addition to weakening the permit review standards, which take native Indian rights into consideration, they’re lobbying the Canadian government to change federal environmental laws all together. After the lawsuit was lost, and the company lobbied some more, the Canadian government will now allow review of a revised permit application.
To my mind, this mess reveals major weaknesses of Canada’s progressive voters, environmental activists, and environmental lobbyists. As a result of this disorganization, environmental laws in Canada are bought and sold on the free market right under everyone’s noses.
Clinton pushes the U.S. to ratify the Law of the Sea, an international treaty that consolidates power to signatories for increased economic development and controls over coastal lands (e.g., it increases rights of signatories to drill for oil and mine on the ocean floor. Also helps with tourism, fisheries, navigation, and “security.” Ocean environmental protection, species conservation, and water quality are mere add-ons, but the treaty does help with some protection.). Conservatives oppose signing the treaty due to a persistent myth that the treaty would decrease U.S. sovereignty and also force companies to use better equipment and stop polluting.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the Law of the Sea with U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey in Washington, D.C. on May 23, 2012. [Go to http://video.state.gov for more video and text transcript.]
A blog about the interactions between the built environment, people, and nature.
I'm a climate change consultant specializing in climate adaptation, environmental law, and urban planning based in the U.S. In addition to traveling and hiking, I research, publish, and lecture on how cities can adapt to climate change.
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