We think that environmental responsibility starts when activism meets pragmatism. In our youth, one member of this team was an industry-hating, tree-hugging environmentalist.

Upon aging, however we realize that, as appealing as it sometime sounds, we can’t just live in a cave and eat nuts and berries. Modern life requires stuff, stuff must be made of raw material that must be generated and needs energy and equipment to make it into the stuff we want and that requires industry. Industry provides jobs, and is the backbone of communities. Therefore polluting industries cannot just be closed or fined out of existence. We can only move forward by partnering with these industries and helping them to become environmental responsible and sustainable.

The mining industry is a case in point. Traditionally a very important part of Canada’s resource based economy, it has historically been very bad for the environment. But we can’t just stop mining. For the sake of the economy, of people and communities that depend on mining, and because we need the raw materials to make stuff.

Natural Resources Canada is trying to strike a balance between environmental and industrial interests with their Green Mining Initiative (GMI). The GMI is intended as a holistic approach that addresses all mining issues. Its themes are footprint reduction, innovation in mine waste management, ecosystem risk management, and mine closure and rehabilitation.

We will watch with interest for the results of the GMI.

– Sophia Dore is an environmental scientist with Conestoga-Rovers & Associates. Andrew Laursen is an assistant professor at Ryerson University; earthtones.metro@gmail.com.