Earth’s resources are needed for survival

In response to Rosa Musket’s points in her 5-4 op-ed, I offer the following counterpoints.

Considering the Upper Peninsula’s mining history of boom and bust, I doubt many today consider a single resource extraction company as more than a short term opportunity for jobs, taxes, etc.

Three percent of West Virginia’s population of about 1.9 million people works out to about 57,000 workers in that state coal industry. Not such a small number, is it? Who profits in addition to the coal companies and employees? Perhaps those who rely on coal for heat and electricity, like us folks in Marquette. Perhaps Eagle Mine will only employ a small percentage of the U.P. population for a realtively short period, but many will profit by the minerals made available for human use.

Most residents of Marquette county benefit in one way or another by local or outside resource extraction. Similarly, less than two percent of the U.S. population are farmers. Although most of us may not wish to see the U.P. covered shore to shore in row crops, we all benefit directly from agriculture. A few bad actors do not make an entire industry reprehensible. This does not excuse bad behavior by the resource extraction industry.

Some question the quality of the water leaving Lundin’s treatment plant. First, due to the local geology, groundwater can be naturally “contaminated” by levels of naturally occuring elements in excess of EPA regulations. Lundin should not be forced to treat the water to “cleaner” standard than what naturally exists. Second, many folks in Marquette county dispose of their waste through a septic field, thus dumping their contamination directly into the groundwater and thence by seepage into local surface water. There is no oversight, control or enforcement on what is disposed of into the thousands of septic systems. I would sooner drink Lundin’s treated discharge water, than water leaving the septic leach field.

Without visitors, parks would be untouched by humans. Michigan’s national, state and local parks bring in millions of dollars to Michigan’s local economies by inviting folks to drive untold miles in vehicles built with and powered by non-renewable resources to visit the park. One national park even dwells on the history of the Keweenaw copper extraction industry. Without resource extraction and usage, there will be no park visitors to educate about the environment, and there would also be no need to designate Marquette as a “trail town.”

The “traditional” historical sisu, patriotism and honor backbone of this land under our immigrating European ancestors is steeped in resource extraction of furs, lumber, copper and iron. Let us also not forget about extraction of land ownership from and some disrespect towards the U.P.’s native peoples.

Sisu meant persevering through long hard winters, biting fly infested summers, long workdays under less than ideal conditions and boom-bust cycles. At that time, patriotism and honor meant working hard, raising a family and serving the new government established by our European ancestors, sometimes in an army fighting against the native peoples. Our European ancestors came to this land for the promise of a better life for themselves.

Unfortunately back then, concern for the environment and the consequences resulting from the methods of resource extraction and processing were not considered. Today, concern for the environment and consideration of the region’s native peoples has taken hold, resulting in many good changes.

Unless we want to be hypocrites who totally rely on resources extracted from areas outside the U.P., or “walk the talk” by returning to living as the native peoples did in the 1600s and reduce the human population of Marquette County to the natural carrying capacity of this land, we will need to do our part by allowing environmentally responsible resource extraction in the U.P. Environmentally responsible resource extraction means wise use of the resources and minimizing adverse affects. It does not mean absolutely zero negative effects. No human can live on this land without having some “negative” effect as interpreted by another human. Apparently a majority of us have bought into a society in which it appears to be advantageous for us to use personally owned combustion engine transportation, enabling us to have the “freedom” to go wherever we wish whenever we wish.

Our children, one, seven or more generations into the future, will need resources to survive and florish. Hopefully future resource extraction will be performed in an environmentally sensitive manner rather than be over-regulated out of existence.

Editor’s note: Bryan Hill resides in Skandia.