Qijun Ou writes:*
People like gold and diamonds, but these precious metals and gemstones are discovered in rainforests around the world. If we want to get gemstones, we have to extracting metals from mines. Extracting these important natural resources actually is a disruptive activity, which would seriously damage to the ecosystem of tropical rainforests and brings about troubles to the residents living in downstream and those who living near to the mining regions. Take Amazon rainforest as a instance, gold can be discovered in floodplain where the Amazon River flow through, so that there many miners work around there and therefore a host of heavy metal pollutants are discharged into the river. However, some heavy-metal pollutants are poisonous like inorganic that would transform into methyl mercury. Which not only would pollutant fishes and sea creatures, more importantly it is very dangerous once other animals or people have eaten those fishes that have been polluted, they would suffer from mercury poisoning and even dies. What’s more, in the process of extracting metals, company need to cut a host of forests and they caved mines and trees with explosives, then the explosives would bring out soil erosion and affects the quality of water, also it seriously affects indigenous people’s health. Yet at the same time, large-scale deforestation and chemical substances has negative effects on rainforest, but pollutants effects are more severe in the downstream. These would result in more and more silts in the river and decrease the amount of water, which would affect local fishery.
Bottom Line: Although gold and diamonds are very attractive for us and extracting metals can bring huge profits for company, we still need to balance the loss and gains from the rainforest. Once rainforest disappear and ecosystem suffers from damage, it is hard for human to rebuild a healthy ecology. Therefore, I think that local government ought to ban industry to mining in the rainforests, or government limit the number of industries and set rules to regulate industry to deforest in order to achieve “win win” strategy.
* These guest posts are from students in my resource economics class at Simon Fraser University. Please leave feedback on their logic, ideas and style and suggestions of how to improve.