|Stephen Hume reports that it is time for some sober second thoughts to just how much we rely on the minerals from the earth and what we can reasonably do to mitigate the consequences of our own appetites.|
Hume infers that the public could no longer use the family car or the transit pass, and one may bike to work instead and feeling somewhat righteous about helping British Columbia, for example, wean itself from its addiction to the mining industry and the minerals it extracts. And say good bye to the coal miner for the privilege. And do not forget the hardrock miner not to mention the smelter crew and the roughneck yanking pipe on some frigid drill rig.
Oh, and also say good bye to the trucker hauling canisters of molybdenum, titanium or tungsten concentrate from the mines and the geologist who explore, and sometimes discovers, economic gold, silver or rare-earths deposits. But ....without them and the industries that employ them, you would be walking, not biking.
Bicycles, unless you ride one you made yourself from bamboo, lashings of hemp and dried banana peels, are entirely manufactured from materials obtained by mining with steel processed by burning metallurgical coal, and perhaps lightened by carbon fibers and graphite tubes, and specialized metals like titanium, and plastic and synthetic rubber obtained from petroleum products.
Helmets are made of petroleum derivatives; quick-dry cycling clothes also; LED safety lights, metals, and rare earths are obtained by mining; water bottles, from metals or petroleum derivatives. Even the roads are built by using mined products, and engineered to reduce friction so you can roll more easily.
Buildings are full of metals and plastics in the form of steel framing and connectors, wiring, lighting, office equipment, insulation, surfacing, window frames, roofing, plumbing fixtures and so on. Even the ceramic cup from which you drink your coffee while reading this often contains the mineral zircon. Read on ....