“It looks like a meteor strike: From out of nowhere, a huge clearing appears in the jungle — a deep rust-colored pit surrounded by mounds of dirt and thick stands of trees pushed to the side in dense piles of overturned soil.
But this is no act of nature. It is the result of the steady labor of a dozen barefoot men, who have blasted away at the earth for three days with high-pressure water hoses and earth-movers, searching for gold and destroying a swathe of rainforest.
Juergen Plein, a 29-year-old miner, said he needs the work mining, and doesn’t know any other way to get at the precious metal.
“I think about it,” Plein, nearly shouting over the roar of generators, said of the damage. “But survival comes first.”
Thanks to record gold prices, hundreds of small-scale mining operations are proliferating along the northeastern shoulder of South America. Small-scale miners produced a record of nearly 16.5 metric tons of gold in 2009, according to Suriname’s government.
Miners are tearing up trees, poisoning creeks with mercury and, in some places, erecting makeshift jungle towns with shops, prostitutes and churches.” – Ben Fox, AP
Ben Fox seems to think that this ‘tearing up [of] trees and poisoning creeks with mercury’ is a bad idea. He, just as I do, sees the ethical wrongs posed in blowing up precious jungle areas in order to make a profit, and he cares very much about the environment, as an semi-anthropocentric and semi-ecocentric. As world inhabitants, we need to care for the land, and this means keeping rainforests and gold outcrops in the ground safe and intact. The author and I both put a very high premium on the environment as partial ecocentrics and we think that this is an unbelievable betrayal of Mother Nature.
However, Juergen Plein, a resident miner, seems to think that this destruction is acceptable since he makes a profit off the gold he mines, which is a very greedy, part a. Clearly this is a man without an environmental moral compass- if only he could see the damage he is causing the environment, one would hope he would stop.
But this is not the case. Plein and other miners will continue to mine because they make money and have no value for the environment, unlike myself and the author of the article. As this devastation continues, rainforest will be unable to grow back and gold will be exploited further as it will be easier to do so, resulting in positive feedback that could go on until Suriname’s rainforest ceases to exist.
But hopefully not.