It is ironic that the company responsible for strip mining thousands of acres in “Bone Valley” in Florida’s heartland has funded a “Backyard Universe” made of artificial turf and fake oak trees. The gift of $8 million to the Bishop Museum has branded the newest addition and will guide programming despite museum directors’ assurances to the contrary.
Digging for fossils puts a benign spin on the gutting of Florida’s center. Combining Mosaic sponsorship with environmental education greenwashes the destruction that the company causes by the mining of phosphate. When phosphate ore is removed from the earth by strip mining, tens of thousands of acres are scraped away annihilating the natural habitat and soil to depths of up to 80 feet.
Missing from the story, and from the mined land, are the panthers, tortoises, fish, scrub jays, sand hill cranes and the hundreds of species removed from their habitats. Strip mining destroys native ecosystems, the homes of endangered and threatened plants and animals, resulting in loss of genetic diversity. Some habitat types, such as forested wetlands, may take 20-30 or more years to mature. The mined land is never returned to its pre-mined condition. Mining contributes to the sixth mass extinction that we are now facing. Up to a million species are at risk of extinction because of human activities, according to the United Nations report in April of this year.
Mosaic has been very purposeful in its donations to Manatee County, funding the Riverwalk amphitheater, the “Nest” at Robinson Preserve and now the “Backyard Universe,” all to portray the company as community-minded and environmentally responsible. The motive for their largesse lies in the need to obtain mining permits for more than unspoiled 16,000 acres in southeastern Manatee County.