Posted by: mesabimisadventures | August 3, 2009

The Face in the Mirror

“The Sierra Club called.  They want you to return the backpack.”  As any mature, well-educated, 31-year-old would do, I crossed my eyes and stuck my tongue out at my friend’s quip.  I knew I had no argument.

Ten-plus years ago while in college, I sent my $25 to the Sierra Club in support of their mission and they, in return, sent me a backpack and a promise to protect Mother Earth.  I believed at the time that supporting environmental organizations that promised to lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil was the most powerful method I had to save the Earth from, well… myself.  Although I understood where food came from (a point driven home regularly thanks to Dad owning a meat processing plant), I still apparently had no knowledge of where all of the other luxuries, such as a roof over my head, began their life cycle. 

The Iron Range changed that.  The Iron Range changed me.

For the first time in my life, I was geographically and culturally surrounded by Mines.  Mines just like the ones that the Sierra Club sent me Action Alerts about that warned me of the catastrophic destruction of Nature as we know Her.  Action Alerts that came pre-equipped with a letter to send to my representatives.  All I had to do was double-check my information and hit the Send button.  A deluge of Action Alerts and similar emails swamped my email account, warning me about the evil Mines throughout the world that were filled with soulless employees that only wanted to rape and pillage the Earth in order to make a fortune off of Her resources.

Those Action Alerts didn’t jive with what I was experiencing on the Range.  I didn’t find those soulless environmental professionals at the Mines.  I found primarily a group of young professionals that were born after the enactment of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.  People who view people who don’t recycle as hopelessly outdated.  A generation brought up with the mantra – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  I found hunters and fishermen who lived downstream of the Mines where they worked.  People who truly could say they had a stake in the land, air and water on the Range.   

I didn’t find evil corporations.  I found my neighbors. 

I didn’t find rampant environmental devastation.  I found kayaking on Lake Ore-Be-Gone.

My environmental ethics haven’t changed since I was in my early 20s.  I still believe we all deserve clean air and water.  I still believe that we have a responsibility to act as wise stewards of the environmental resources provided for us by a deity or none of your choosing.  I still believe that future generations are relying on us not to be idiots and hopefully hand them down a world that is not a wasteland.

What has changed for me is my understanding of my personal impact on the Earth and my responsibility to it.  My dad used to crack that there were “city folks” that would die of starvation holding a chicken in their hands.  They had so successfully removed themselves from the food web that they honestly didn’t know where their food came from, other than the grocery store.  I now understand my role in the natural resources web of the Earth courtesy of living in an area lush with resources.

I’m not going to qualify for Green Sainthood in my personal life at any point soon.  We all are faced with a neverending line of decisions everyday that affect our environmental footprint and the chances of us being perfect are pretty much nil.  All we can do is try our best to use our knowledge, wrapped up in our integrity, to make the wisest, most ethical decisions.

At the end of the day, we alone must evaluate those decisions.

We alone must confront the face in the mirror.



  1. Words fail me, apparently they don’t for you though!

  2. I like your thoughts and agree with you about how far removed people are from where the things in their daily lives come from. There are people that don’t understand why people would grow stuff when vegetables and meats are bought clean and shrink-wrapped in grocery stores. They want the products that resources from mines provide, but like to be removed from the impact that their choices make. Nice blog. 🙂

    • Thank you 🙂 and great title to your blog! I definitely have to check it out with a title like that 🙂

  3. Even in your blog I cannot escape the Michael Jackson references, I thought this was my sanctuary JK. You bring up a very good point, there are many instances where people create the demand for the industry they despise. See mountain bikers with molybdenum composite bikes protesting a mine in Gunnison, CO. Few links to what I’m talking about

    and in case you’ve never heard of moly or wonder what its used for here you go

    it’s very closely related to the steel industry. (Probably be easier to read if these were actually hyperlinks, but I’m not tech savvy enough to do that)

    • Oh man, I didn’t even think of that being a reference to him. Too late to change it, but dammit! Thanks for the links, I’ll go scope them out.

  4. Nice post! Sooooo true.

  5. Well said. You should have heard all the protesters at the non-ferrous forum yesterday in the cities. 1 hand in about 100 was raised when asked who didn’t have a cell phone in the room. Hybrid cars – need 2x more copper than standard. It’s an amazing world we live in when you can protest something on one hand while using it on the other. NIMBY, ha.

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