Mike's photo adventure weblog

Mike's photo adventure weblog: May 2005

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Penticton long weekend

Barry had a job interview in Penticton, and I happened to have a hookup for a ride out there. I headed down there with no plan on what to do except hike and slackline, and had an excellent time. We met lots of interesting people, including a couple of jugglers on Monday named Harvest and David, who reside in Masset on the Queen Charlotte Islands. They tried to teach me to unicycle (I know Alex would be happy to hear that) and juggle, while I tried to teach them how to slackline. Movies of them juggling are here, here
and here.

Barry and I also did a little "hitchhiking", but I'm not sure if it really qualifies as such. We walked an hour to Wal-Mart so Barry could buy socks, then decided our 1 hour walk home was not going to be fun due to the previous day's hike. So I asked an old man for a ride back into downtown if it was on his way, and he dropped us off by the hostel. Before letting us into his car he checked our shoes and clothes to see if we were dirty, because he felt that this car had to last a long time and by getting it dirty it would shorten its life. The car was absolutely immaculate, I swear it didn't have a speck of dirt in it. He told us about his life of retirement, and how he lived in Thailand on $50/month rent and chased after hot young (relatively) widows. Apparently the women there marry much older businessmen who end up dying and leaving the women all their money when the women are still in their 40s and 50s. But the Canadian government started taxing the beejesus out of this old dude so he was forced to end the party and come back here. Poor guy.

If you didn't figure out to click on the photo above, then click here for the photos.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Worldly problems / The mining coop job

Last term at UBC I took a great course called CIVIL 200 - Engineering and Sustainable Development. A lot of the assignments were just opinionated responses to various questions posed. Here is one such response to the assignment that asked us to reflect on the problems in the world (small and large scale):

The problems I came up with are present all over the world for the most part - problems like non-renewable energy production, exploitation of developing nations, global warming, habitat loss, and industrial contamination. The specific local problems I thought of were light pollution, commercialization of the UBC campus, and insufficient recycling.

The whole of the world's problems can be traced to two important categories: greed, and ignorance/apathy (I'll call this one group, because they are linked - they lead to each other). Problems like commercialization of our campus and exploitation of developing nations stem directly from greed, light pollution and insufficient recycling stem from ignorance/apathy, and industrial contamination and global warming stem from both.

In the near term, these problems are only serious in the way that they affect immediate enjoyment of the world. The view of the starry sky, a view that humans have enjoyed since the dawn of our species, is no longer available near urban areas. The wonderful UBC campus is scarred with dozens of cranes, loud construction noises, blocked pedestrian paths, and buildings where green-space once existed.
In the long term, these problems become much more significant. Industrial contaminants will affect water quality, thousands of species of animal and plant will go extinct, and global warming will continue, increasing the number and magnitude of natural disasters.
Due to the length of time involved for many problems to manifest themselves, the effects cannot even begin to be predicted to all the problems facing the world today. The Earth adjusts very slowly to change, as the climate is still adjusting to GHGs released years ago. The human body will absorb small amounts of carcinogens that result in cancer forming decades later.

These problems will affect me as an engineer because in the future the public will demand more thorough environmental studies before a mine can be opened, more careful mining and tailings/waste rock management, and the population explosion in the world will demand more raw materials. When (or if) a time comes in the future when the world's population levels off, and 100% of materials are recycled, the mining industry will cease to exist.
The impacts on myself would be very similar to engineers everywhere - a more globalized, sustainable approach to engineering will be required. As a citizen however, the effects of these problems on me on a long term level will be much less drastic than on a less developed country's citizens. Since the Western world can afford (economically) to deal with the problems that other nations cannot, we will remain almost as prosperous (economically), continuing to exploit the developing nations and cause them even greater adversity.

I do believe our future is at risk, because the effects of our global experiment are far too complicated to even imagine. Nature is a delicate balance and a slight tip in the wrong direction can send things crashing down.


Speaking of mining, I've been working my new job at Highland Valley Copper for over 2 weeks now. I work with 23 other students as labourers doing odd jobs around the property, 10 hours a day, 4 days a week (Mon-Thurs). The other students are great fun and we all get along very well. Half of them are related to people who work at the mine and have chosen this job because it pays too damn well to go anywhere else, and the other half of the students are Mining Engineering students trying to get exposure to the industry, like myself. We had an amazing orientation in the first week, and pictures from that first week are here. Note the size of Logan "Lake" - more like Logan Pond, the beautiful colour of hardhat we get, what happens to your pickup truck when you park in the wrong place. One of the coolest parts was the blast we saw - these blasts happen every few days.