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‹ The Weekly Green

Copper and Mercury

May 10, 2016

JaguarMuralOn Thursday, May 19, the Center for Biological Diversity will unveil the latest mural in its Endangered Species Mural Project: a stunning depiction of a jaguar by local artist Kati Astraeir.

It is located on Toole Avenue, right across from the Borderlands Brewery, where the unveiling will be publicly celebrated from 6 – 8 pm. In addition to the mural, the centerpiece of the festivities will be Tucson’s – and the entire country’s – own lone jaguar, El Jefe, who roams the Santa Rita Mountains. The latest sightings report him as healthy and apparently well-fed.

But El Jefe’s state of bliss may be running its course, because the Santa Ritas are also the site of the proposed Rosemont Copper Mine, which recently came a couple of steps closer to realization by receiving blessings of the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. The studies performed are heavily criticized by the Center for Biological Diversity and the EPA,  as well as the Bureau of Land Management, who question the validity of the computer models used.


The half-mile deep pit dug for the mine would draw up ground water and so lower the water table in the area. Apart from the jag, this could well have a negative effect on some 12 other endangered species living in Cienega Creek and its tributaries, foremost among them the Gila Topminnow, a small, shortlived fish which has its largest remaining population in the Santa Cruz watershed.

Proponents of the project counter with the economic argument that the mine would create jobs. However,  the economic viability of the project is in doubt because of a steep drop in global copper prices; the Canadian parent company of Rosemont Copper, Hudbay Minerals Inc, has Rosemont-pitindefinitely postponed  setting a target start date of construction. The project still has a few bureaucratic hurdles to clear as well.

One prediction can be made with certainty: the pit would do nothing to enhance the beauty of the Santa Ritas.




Summer is around the corner and the Desert Museum starts its Cool Summer Nights on May 21. Through September 3, the museum will stay open until 10 pm every Saturday night and each night will have its own theme, including Creatures of the Night, Insect Insanity and World Oceans Night. The first one will be a Full Moon Festival, celebrating the Moon in music and poetry.

Mercury-transitThe power of the moon, drawing up the oceans as well as the water making up the larger part of our bodies has been recognized since the dawn of human history. Other celestial bodies are believed to impact the course of events as well. On May 9th, the planet Mercury too will be full, moving exactly between us and the sun. Mercury is named after the Greek god of capriciousness and if lately you found things taking unexpected turns, that may be why. You can see the transit, which happens only about dozen times each century, at the NASA website.


(Broadcast 3:30)


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