The Snow Goose Situation
You may have heard that thousands of snow geese recently died as they landed on a toxic lake in Montana. The Berkeley Pit is a 700-acre, 900-foot-deep, former copper open-pit mine that contains high levels of acidic water with heavy metals like cadmium and arsenic. While the employees at the former mine tried their best to scare the geese away, according to the Associated Press, about 10 percent of the birds landed anyway and succumbed to the poisonous water.
Why This Is a Cautionary Tale
The snow geese deaths are sad indeed, but there is more to the story when you think on a grander scale:
- Think of how many other former pit mines, many of them not being managed as the Berkeley Pit is, are abandoned and just waiting for hungry migratory birds to land there.
- Think of the tar sands pits in Canada, also full of toxic metals, and very appealing to migratory birds like snow geese.
- Think of the abandoned underground coal mines that leech toxic metals into our streams, which then become devoid of life.
What these all have in common is that the long-term environmental consequences of mining are not factored into the initial costs of doing business. The bonds that are put in place now may not cover damage decades from now. And the mines dug before bonds were a common practice may just now beginning to show their nasty side effects.
What Can Be Done
We all need to realize that our actions can have devastating and long-lasting consequences. Therefore, we need to think further out than our lifetime when making drastic alterations to the planet. We need to ensure that those who are mining, and drilling, and manufacturing are on the hook, should something go wrong today, tomorrow, or one hundred years from now. Because the health of future generations, not to mention all other species on earth, may be at stake.
If you are concerned about the health of our environment, as it has a significant effect on the health of our bodies, please let your elected officials know you are unhappy with Trump’s choice to head the EPA. Or we may have even more incidents like the snow geese deaths to deal with down the road.