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’.
It has been a while since the last Rethink posting, but I am back with some new stories on the Museum’s efforts to reduce its ecological footprint.
First off, the gap since the last Rethink post is due to work on our summer exhibit – Water: Beneath the Surface – which is running from April 25 through to the end of August. Now at first, it might seem that an exhibit on Water is a step away from the goal of an exhibit on sustainability, but is not. The central concepts of Rethink are present within this new exhibit, but are found beneath the surface.
Consider this: it takes over 20 litres of water to grow one head of broccoli. Even more water demanding is tea. It takes over 400 litres of water to produce one litre of brewed tea. When you consider how much water is needed to sustain each of us every day when everything is accounted for (for example the water needed to produce clothing, electronics, and other goods), the simple truth is Canadians use quite a bit. The first thing we need to be aware of is how much we actually do use.
Water, as a finite resource, requires new thought on how it is used.
Secondly, since my last update, the Green Team has developed its list of goals for 2016. Near the top, and the one currently getting attention, is addressing a water related issue. Our gold panning is heated during the winter to prevent freezing. One of the major sources of our greenhouse gas emissions is the propane we use to heat that water along with a couple of our buildings. The heating of the gold panning water may not prove to be the largest consumer of propane, but it is seemingly the most inefficient since the water constantly flows out of the panning area.
What we are looking at is installing solar powered heating for the gold panning area. This installation, if it goes ahead, will be a major step for us in reducing our emissions. It will also be the largest project completed by the Green Team since forming last year.
Lastly, as many other organizations have experienced, while we are working to improve our recycling collection from our visitors, it remains a challenge. In my view, I think the solution is in limiting what refuse is generated combined with perhaps removing the sorting responsibility from the visitor. This however, would place more demands upon the Museum than is currently feasible. So in the meantime, we are continuing to work on better identification of our bins, so as to reduce the cross contamination.