Monday, November 16, 2015

Being thankful for mining's past

The first half of this week is going to be wet, the second half -- cold. As long as "never the twain shall meet," we'll probably be doing all right, although a continuing lack of snow cover would eventually mean the ground would probably freeze even deeper than normal, unless the temperatures stay well above normal. As long as that's all clear, let's move on.

Next week is Thanksgiving. You may have noticed that I've been picking away at a list of things for which I'm grateful. One that I haven't mentioned is that I'm grateful I'm not reliant on a mining company for my pension or for future employment. Precious metal mining and coal are each looking at a tough future. Frankly, I doubt there's much that Minnesota can do, including extending unemployment benefits for miners or burdening homeowners with increased electricity costs to save dollars for mining companies that somehow manage to always pay their executives bonuses, but our elected leaders keep trying. I suppose I should be grateful that it's not worse, but I keep remembering the old saying about if you're trying to get out of a hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging. Mining in Minnesota has become marginal, at best. I hope Governor Dayton takes into consideration the kind of information in this assessment, from which the chart above was taken, and a fundamental incompatibility between mining's impacts and the  environmental quality associated with long term growth prospects for northern Minnesota. Despite prior proposals such as some posted here, of a possible role for Minnesota helping to create a "sustainable mining industry," I'm starting to conclude that northern Minnesota can have mining or it can have a future, but it can't have both. The "my way or the highway" attitude exhibited by many of mining's supporters is a major hindrance to a creative future, it seems to me. Northern Minnesota faces a tipping point regarding its future. I for one will be grateful if Governor Dayton recognizes that and makes an appropriate decision, one that looks forward, not back.


By Li-Young Lee 
That scraping of iron on iron when the wind   
rises, what is it? Something the wind won’t   
quit with, but drags back and forth.
Sometimes faint, far, then suddenly, close, just   
beyond the screened door, as if someone there   
squats in the dark honing his wares against   
my threshold. Half steel wire, half metal wing,   
nothing and anything might make this noise   
of saws and rasps, a creaking and groaning
of bone-growth, or body-death, marriages of rust,   
or ore abraded. Tonight, something bows
that should not bend. Something stiffens that should   
slide. Something, loose and not right,   
rakes or forges itself all night. 

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