Feb 10, 2021
Today I’m sharing my conversation with Max Wilbert, one of the activists occupying Thacker Pass, Nevada, up in the northern-central part of the state, to protest a proposed lithium mine there.
He and his fellow protesters have been camping on this land, currently governed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), in winter conditions at about 5,100 feet elevation, so it’s cold and snowy. But the beauty of the pass and their belief in the cause sustains them, though their numbers are few. When you visit the website, ProtectThackerPass.org, and I hope you do, you will find some of the most beautiful writing and personal expression about a place you could find anywhere.
Thacker Pass is habitat for Crosby’s buckwheat (a rare desert wildflower only found in this area), King River pyrg (a critically endangered snail), rabbitbrush, jackrabbits, bighorn sheep, coyotes, golden eagles, greater sage-grouse, pronghorn antelope, and old growth sagebrush.
Max joined me the afternoon of February 4th from the side of the mountain where, incredibly, there was cell service from a small town miles away. But I’m glad there was, because the importance of what he had to say can’t be overstated.
Many of us have been dreaming of transitioning away from fossil fuels not only because their burning has a devastating effect on the climate, but also because fossil fuel extraction practices are wholly destructive to those parts of the world where they take place, and therefore to the many life forms that call these places home. The prospect of clean, green energy has been so appealing that maybe we have been blinded to the high cost to the earth. The realities of wind and solar, as hyped as they are now, and as seemingly mainstream they are becoming, are not without their damaging environmental effects.
But make no mistake - lithium mining is not unlike coal or gold or other mineral mining in its destructive power - this is a strip mine we’re talking about. It will involve
Lithium is essential for battery production for electric energy storage, that means solar batteries, electric vehicle batteries, and all the batteries that will store all the electricity produced by variable energy sources such as solar and wind. The electric car industry will be one of the largest consumers of large batteries capable of propelling heavy vehicles long distances. And we do love to drive.
The idea that we can just shift our consumption of energy from fossil fuels to solar and wind without serious implications for the health of our planet is just false. It’s like the story with fracked or “natural” gas: there are less carbon emissions when its burned, but the cost to our water, air, and land and all the species, including human, that live where fracking occurs, pay the price through polluted water and methane emissions that they drink, eat and breathe, and there’s the sand that’s scraped from the bottom of our rivers for fracking rigs, the billions of gallons of water trucked in, and all the rest of it.
In short, haven’t we done enough damage? can we please drive less, buy less, eat less, and consume less of everything? And for goodness sake, turn off your spotlights at night. No one’s coming for you, especially not bears! They have far more important things to do.
But back to Thacker Pass. Thank you to Max and all the activists out there and those supporting their efforts for bringing attention to this important topic.
I hope you enjoy the show, and are inspired to learn more at ProtectThackerPass.org.
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