Industrialization and Protecting the Environment

Safety moments at the beginning of every meeting is a good practice. In one of the meetings I previously attended, the impact of industrialization on environment was higlighted. A picture of a location in Alberta, Canada before and after the oil sand mining operation. Before mining took place, the area was green. After mining operation, it was all tar sands.

This destruction of the environment reminded me of my hometown. It is situated along Bued river which runs from Benguet province where two mining operations were taking place. Bued river is the main source of irrigation to thousands of hectares of agricultural lands in my hometown. Agriculture is the main livelihood of the people in our community including my family.

As a young farm boy, we used to fish on the irrigation canals. Mud fish and cat fish were the most common catch during those times. Edible snails or frogs were alternative on the dinner table if we were unlucky enough to catch fishes. Agricultural produce were also abundant as the soil were very fertile.

The mining operations upstream the river were not too keen in protecting the environment. Mine tillings were deposited along the banks of the river that when rainy season starts, all the mine tillings flows down the river silting it including our fertile farm lands. After several decades, the very deep river bed became as shallow as its banks. The river became dry during summer, the fishes were all gone. Farm production became meager requiring more use of fertilizers which became an additional burden to the cash strap farmers.

The mine operations were long stopped but the destruction of the environment caused by them is still being felt up to this time and probably by generations to come. My hometown was never the same after the destruction of the environment. It may be able to recover but it may take several generations.

Industrialization is good for the economy. It could create jobs but its impact to the environment and other people will be long lasting.