Mining and society are intricately connected. We are so dependent upon mining that it is far more realistic to question how, when, and where we will mine than to question if we will mine.
But this brings forth some serious challenges. The resources we depend upon are finite, and we are consuming an ever-increasing amount of them. At the current rate of growth in consumption, it will not be long before we will need more resources than our planet can provide. What will we do then?
More significantly, what can and will we do to prevent this scenario from unfolding?
‘Rethink’ is an exploration into how society can become sustainable and what roles all of us play in achieving this goal. It is a call to action to begin the change now, with the recognition of the factors that can drive or inhibit such change. Most importantly, it is a dialogue on how we get from ‘here’ to ‘there’.
Remember that list of things you wanted to be when you grew up? On that list, was there anything to do with the oceans?
For me, for a short time anyway, I thought I wanted to be a marine biologist. Developing this summer’s temporary exhibit – Water: Beneath the Surface (running April 25 through the end of August) – has brought back one of the reasons why marine biology was on my list – exploration and discovery.
A portion of this exhibit is focused on the oceans. In particular, on the amazing discoveries made within them which has allowed us to better understand the world we call home. What makes it most fascinating however, is how little we know about the oceans even today. With the vast majority of them still unexplored, and our own future tied to the fate of the ocean, it seems obvious more energy should be put into understanding and protecting them.
At the same time, exploration has led to the discovery of vast resources on the seafloor – resources which, given human nature, some are eager to extract. Very soon, mining of the seafloor is about to commence. Will we do it right? Do we understand these remote environments well enough to ensure we won’t cause permanent damage? The answers to these questions will be apparent soon enough.
One thing is apparent, however. As we demand more goods made from mined materials, it is not a question of ‘if’, but a question of ‘when’ we mine the oceans. How we do it, however, is still being defined.
Welcome to Earth’s final frontier.
Photo: NOAA / Wikicommons