22/23 July 2017
My dear friends in Christ,
In 2012 a Filipino Catholic priest, Fr Edwin Gariguez, won the Goldman Environmental Prize for leading a campaign against a nickel mine project on the Philippine island of Mindoro. He wanted to protect the biodiversity and the indigenous people from destructive large-scale mining. The campaign had the support of the Filipino bishops.
The Mangyan people had lived sustainably from the island’s natural resources for many generations. However, Mindoro’s nickel deposits attracted foreign mining companies who realised that a lot of money could be made from such deposits. Indeed, a Norwegian mining company proposed an open-pit nickel mine near two key biodiversity areas and within the watershed that feeds the island’s four major rivers. These provide drinking water to lowland communities and irrigation for Mindoro’s rice fields. The mine would use a process known as acid leaching to access the nickel ore, producing several million tons of toxic waste, contaminating the island’s water resources and destroying the tropical forests. Mindoro’s Mangyan indigenous communities would be heavily impacted by the mine, as the proposed mining area was within their ancestral land. Fr Edwin and the indigenous people challenged not only the company, but the government as well. There was a lot of profit at steak, so the mining company were not going to walk away without a fight – and there was one, which included death threats against Fr Edwin, and even the murder of a senior figure on the protest team. However, through the drastic measure of going on hunger strike, the movement against mining won and the Norwegian mining company pulled out of the area.
There are many cases like this throughout the globe, where the modern world with its ‘progress’ banner and the desire to make a lot of money not only tramples on the rights and vulnerability of people, but seeks to destroy the God-given beauty and natural order of things.
I wonder how the modern, fast paced world impacts upon our lives? I wonder what aspects of the beauty of our God-given humanity are overshadowed by self-interest and a false notion of advancement or progress?
Food for thought…
Wishing you well for the week.