Communicating with Future Generations

Communicating with Future Generations

Have you ever wondered how to send a warning 10,000 years into the future? Would you use a sign, a monument, or a symbol of danger? Would you tell a warning story that could be passed from generation to generation? Not many people think that far ahead, but governments faced with the problem of storing nuclear waste have had to study the kinds of messages that could be used to warn people in the deep future. Our own thinking on this issue has been influenced by the work of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, New Mexico, the first long-term nuclear storage facility in the Unitied States.

Less work has been done on long-term chemical waste issues. Yet, the current proposal to freeze arsenic under Giant Mine for long periods of time raises many of the same issues as nuclear waste. How do we keep people in the future from entering the arsenic chambers? How can we explain to them what must be done to keep the arsenic contained? Through community workshops and web-based reports, we will develop possible strategies and best practices for communicating the Giant Mine arsenic hazard with people in the very distant future.

To see how a strategy for communicating with future generations might be applied to Giant Mine, please see our full report on the issue and our two page summary:

To participate in a public discussion on the issues at Giant Mine, please contribute to our public Facebook page.

CFG Working Group

The Communicating with Future Generations Working Group (CFG) has been established to facilitate information-sharing about the Giant Mine among key stakeholders and the governments managing the site. The focus of the Working Group is on strategies for communicating with future generations about the management needs of the site. It is an information-sharing and brainstorming body, not a decision-making body.

The role of the CFG is to create a space for members to regularly meet and discuss ideas on communicating with future generations, based on information available from research and other similar sites. It will also host a workshop, creating opportunity for learning and public engagement with the topic. The results of this workshop will be written up as a report. Recognizing that there is a commitment to develop a comprehensive perpetual care plan for the site by the managing governments, the Working Group’s efforts will contribute towards the development of such a plan.

Membership includes representatives from the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, The City of Yellowknife, Aboriginal Affairs And Northern Development (AANDC), the Government of Northwest Territories (GNWT), Alternatives North, the NWT Mining Heritage Society, any other interested party that expresses a desire to participate and whose inclusion is agreed to by existing members. The Working Group is coordinated through the Toxic Legacies Project at Memorial University.

CFG Committee Reports

CFG Meeting Minutes