Lifestyle change key to sustainability

I’ve been asked to join the fight against the proposed sulfide mining.  Any time you choose an adversarial position, real progress towards a solution is hard to achieve.  When I think of this debate, I think of a quote of Mother Teresa.  “I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations,” she said.  “I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.”

 Everyone in the U.S. supports clean water and mining because we insist on having clean water to drink and we use the products of mining.  What we need, however, is a sustainable way to mine.  For that to happen, we need to rethink our consumer culture.  Is this type of culture in the best interest of our planet?  If not, it will come back to hurt us.  In the best interest of our planet, and of ourselves in the long run, we should purchase only products that in all ways are good for the environment and also improve human rights.  That is a tall order.  Is it an achievable goal?  Yes!

 We first need to understand that shopping for the sake of shopping is fundamentally wrong.  When a person considers thoughtfully, ahead of time, about needed purchases, he or she should only look for products that bear labels indicating environmental integrity; we should want products that have this type of label.  Consumers should also be prepared to pay three to four times more than some products now cost, to cover the cost of producing products in environmentally sound ways.  This paradigm shift of consumer values would be ok, though.  Why?  Purchasers would buy 1/4 fewer products because the products would last longer and personal happiness would be derived by means other than casual shopping.

 To force mining, manufacturing, and related goods and services to use environmentally sound standards will take nothing short of a monumental amount of power.  We, consumers, use that power every day.  When the “Will of the People” is known, industry turns on a dime to produce products correctly.

 One other time in our history as a nation, a paradigm shift happened.  On Dec. 7, 1941, the Pearl roared.  Americans then came together to overcome an oppressive force that could destroy us all.  Pearl Harbor was not just a place on the map but a turning point in American consciousness.  It was very clear, at that time during our history, who and what the enemy was.  We set aside our differences, determined what we had to do, and instilled great social change to accomplish our goal, and to ensure our vision.

 A strong work ethic and strong moral values, coupled with an enormously healthy planet, fueled the last 100 years of unprecedented economic growth.  These attributes and resources are hard to find now.  Thus, the unsustainable lifestyle that we live today will cause a collapse of our way of living unless we change and recognize the Silent Pearl before it roars.

Andy Hill

Ely, Minn.

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