Alaska’s Bristol Bay at risk: Jeremy Jauncey joins WWF to find out why
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Alaska’s Bristol Bay at risk: Jeremy Jauncey joins WWF to find out why

November 8, 2019


This mine is too big and it can’t be built. This is not an environmentally-okay thing to do. The Pebble Mine fight has been going
on for 20 years, and it pits two huge industries in Alaska head to head. You’ve got the largest
salmon fishery in the world and you’ve got this huge mine project. A few months ago, I joined WWF in southwest
Alaska, an area that has one of the world’s most productive marine ecosystems. From our base across Cook Inlet in Homer, we traveled to witness the largest salmon migration in
the world, in an area that includes Bristol Bay, a place on the frontlines of the fight
against the international mining industry. So here’s the issue, underneath the ground
in this area is one of the largest copper reserves anywhere in the world. When you have
natural resources like that, you have people that want to mine it. Around 20 years ago,
the first group of miners put together proposals to start pulling this out of the land, and
it was rejected. But recently the EPA have fast-tracked potential legislation that would
allow it to be developed, which means that the marine ecosystem, one of the most productive
in the world, the homeland to the bears, all of this amazing natural beauty would be ruined
in the pursuit of profit. Dave Aplin, a senior program officer at WWF
has been working to help protect the region from the threats of industrial development
for 15 years. I sat down with him in Homer to learn as much as I could about Pebble Mine
and what was going on. Are they taking into account the wider economic impact? Do they
look at the sustainable tourism industry? Do they look at all of these additional factors that
keep communities together, that bring revenue to support livelihoods? Do they take that
into account? No. We don’t think they’ve done a comprehensive
job of what they’re supposed to do. The salmon feed the entire system, so it’s not
just the bears and the beluga whales and the eagles. It’s the caribou and moose that
are eating the vegetation that have been fertilized and enhanced by that salmon system. It’s
the birds that move through here. So the whole system depends on that annual enrichment of salmon. It’s gonna damage the clean water and the fisheries that people depend on. Bristol Bay is the last salmon stronghold on the planet. Spending time with Dave opened my eyes to
the catastrophic impact this mine would have on the people of Bristol Bay, but I wanted
to see firsthand the impact it would also have on the environment. With the help of conservation expert Drew Hamilton, a man with more than a dozen years of experience observing
and leading guided tours in the area, we planned a route to go and see these bears for ourselves. We’re in the headquarters of Beluga Air. We’re about to go out and see some bears.
Can you just tell me a little bit about what’s happening in Pebble Mine? The Pebble Mine fight has been going
on for 20 years and it pits two huge industries in Alaska head to
head. You’ve got the fishery, the Bristol Bay sockeye fishery, the largest salmon fishery
in the world, and you’ve got this huge mine project. Now the bears that we’re gonna
see today they’re not always there. They follow seasonal food sources. Some might be
on this side of the mountain; some might be on this side of the mountains. But if you’re
gonna put a 38-mile road corridor that’s gonna bisect their home ranges, not only is
it gonna have a negative impact on the bears, it’s gonna have a negative impact on the
homegrown bear industry that’s popped up here on the Kenai Peninsula. An hour’s flight from our base in
Homer across some of Alaska’s most spectacular coastline into Katmai
National Park, was an area accessible only by seaplane. It offers a tourism experience
like no other as expert guides bring you up close and personal with wild Alaskan bears. Tourism is yet another critical industry at risk from the development of Pebble Mine. Now the most powerful part of this tourism development is that it employs over 500 Alaskans,
and 75 percent of that revenue stays here in Alaska, which means local people can provide
for their families as well as provide for the conservation needed to look after these
amazing animals. The impact this mine will have cannot be overstated. The environmental degradation will be massive. The fish, the bears, their ecosystem will
be dramatically damaged and left vulnerable to the risks of catastrophic mining disasters
that will destroy the wildlife, their habitats, and people’s livelihoods. But there is hope. Congress in the U.S. has the opportunity now to cause us to take a step back, to actually
do more detailed science and make a serious evaluation of whether or not this should go
ahead. Just educate yourself. If you know more, you can take action. If you take action,
you can have impact and you can help protect this beautiful part of the world.

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  1. Great worx; also: first, experiential knowledge is the source of all knowledge, as feelings are the root of all thought; and the source of all emotional strength. To struggle against corruption, Gandhi is best: "the root of all oppression lies in (supposed) science"; "nothing is better than abhaya,
    fearlessness in the struggle against the 7 corruptions; it is also most important for an individual and a country" (to paraphrase); "be the change you wish to see in the world"; just to jot a few. I would add a few of my own: if it ain't fixed, don't break it; more is less; if you don't stand for something, you've already fallen for everything. A few twigs of the poetree also elucidate:

    Injustices/

    Addressing, not addressing them

    Have costs, former is individual,

    The latter is global, as well.

    Responsibility/

    If you don't exercise it,

    It's Siamese twin sister, freedom,

    Will wither, like an unexercised muscle, as well.

    Sadly, because of self-possession,

    we need to exorcise it before it's exercised.

    Sacrifices?/

    It's not the self-sacrificed

    When we do what needs to be done,

    Rather the false-ego sacrificed

    At Thee's altar within.

    ends or means?/

    Neither do I embrace.

    Rather, the struggle well run

    Which uplifts us uncrowned,

    Every moment humans race.

    Manners/

    In which doings and not doings

    Are done or aren't,

    Brings life and light to them,

    Or it doesn't.

    YOU CAN/

    Talk the talk, walk the walk, and even

    Be the be, but, if you don't vote the vote,

    You won't ever be livin' in a democracy.

    Eden?/

    Splitting of atom,

    Cloning of Adam, hubris;

    Leads to extinction.

    Thanx for all you do; copy, share as you will 🙂 reality

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