I know, I know. No more mining. I am so ashamed!

But who could resist this from Michael B? “I have to comment on the following line from Jim Whyte’s message: “If you oppose mining on the grounds that it is by its nature bad for the environment, you have to be consistent right down the line and go dig with a stick”. A friend of mine went to India last year and saw a group of women digging holes in the ground using only sticks. The holes were in a line, and the plan was to join the holes to make a trench. He asked why a trenching machine wasn’t used for efficiency and speed. He was told that this provided income to the women (something like $1 per day). The kicker, though, was that the trench, dug with sticks, was to be used to lay cable for Internet access. The old world meets the new.”

Or this, from Jim Strickland? “Well I know this sound Buck Rogerish, but none the less, I truly believe it. The biggest and most important reason to go out into space is to make life better for the people of earth. What better reason to go than to mine the moon and the asteroids? This would of course be very expensive to begin with, but once the technology hurdles were ironed out and the infrastructure were in place, it shouldn’t be to hard. And getting stuff down to earth is cheap — just aim toward some lake or the middle of the ocean, and let it drop. And of course the law of unintended consequences comes into play. All the research needed to make this work would probably have all sorts of spin-offs for everyday use. Research is never pointless, even when it seems so.” OK, so it will be a coal day in July before the hurdles are ironed out. And the ripple effect of this particular plan could be pretty dramatic (tidal waves?) and I would imagine there is the problem of keeping the ore from burning up in space during reentry, as meteors do, or fishing such material as makes it through the atmosphere from the bottom of the ocean and then getting it to Detroit. But with heat shields that double as flotation devices and a good Westerly current . . .

Or this, from Jon Raymond? “It’s too easy to set up a straw man that represents the most extreme and ridiculous caricature of the ‘opposition’s’ viewpoint and then proceed to light him on fire or at least portray him singing If I Only Had A Brain. This is one of the reasons I don’t have much patience for shows like CNBC’s Hardball. While there might be environmentalists who wish to ban all mining and survive using sharp fingernails, I’ve never met them. On the other hand there are most certainly individuals who wish to undermine (no pun intended) any attempts at government regulation of toxic activities. We call them Libertarians.”

Oh, boy. A cat fight. Listen, my libertarian friends: just remember that I am only quoting Jon Raymond, Hardball style.

Mary Black spied this bumper sticker on a geology professor’s car. It’s printed by the National Mining Association and reads: EARTH FIRST! and then, smaller: Will mine other planets later.

“Chuckle aside,” she writes, “current mining is not the same as strip mining of old.” She credits the government and environmental awareness with this improvement.

And finally, from Steve Gilbert: “Bob T’s suggestion that the free market will solve mining’s environmental problems (“Mine operators in third world countries would be happy to fill the gap, netting very little in extra expense for the end user”) is the sort of Not In My Back Yard argument that causes criticism of international trade agreements. Free trade is a great idea, say its proponents, and it’s not our problem if the manufacturers of products we import use slave labor or destroy the environment in their countries. It is ironic that Bob’s comment follows the report on cyanide poisoning. I guess cyanide poisoning elsewhere than in the US isn’t so bad.”

Steve is exactly right. Fortunately, it can all be finessed once we get those heat-shield floatation devices working.


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