We had a screening of “Indigenous Suriname” at Walla Walla University last week to honor Earth Day. After the presentation we had a question from someone in the audience: “What can I do about the problem?” The specific problem they were referring to (I think) was the mercury problem from the community of Apetina, Suriname (among many others). This is a community where every single one of the members tested (about 90% of the village) have mercury levels in their body that are very high.
What was our answer? We said that we don’t know. Actually, just thinking that there is a solution is a cultural assumption (we can fix anything). There may not be a solution. It’s a very complex issue and definitely doesn’t have a single solution. There may be things we can do to help those that already have mercury poisoning, but there is no way to get it out of the body immediately.
One of the audience members offered that education can help. That’s true. Lots of education needs to happen, both in first world countries (about our greed for gold and other elements) and in developing countries (education in general and more specifically education about gold mining practices).
But education alone won’t solve it. As a human race, we need to stop being greedy. As an individual living in the United States of America, I am contributing to a society that uses too many resources for each person. What can I do? I can make sure the resources I’m using are being used for a cause.
It’s up to each person to figure out where they fit into the solution to the problem. What I tried to do, is give a community in Suriname a voice. We’ll all have to work together to find a solution.