And, we are in a hole. We dug it ourselves.
This hole we have dug is both a metaphorical one and a physical one.
The metaphorical hole includes (inter alia): pandemics, mass extinction, deforestation, war, terrorism, fisheries depletion, plastic garbage, e-waste, noise and light pollution, food shortages, soil loss, and – yes – the issue du jour (possibly du siècle): climate change.
It is a deep hole. Furthermore, as each of these components intensify, the hole gets bigger, deeper, and more difficult to get out of.
Whatsmore, this metaphorical hole has a physical counterpart. We have been digging holes for centuries. Evidence of Roman copper mines are still visible in Europe. We have been digging for copper, gold, silver, tin, and other elements for many years.
With the coming of the Industrial Revolution we began to also dig for coal, oil, and iron ore in huge measure. The machines we created from such exploitation enabled us to dig even larger holes in our search (some would say – greed) for the energy fuels of the economies of the world.
For a long time we could see the environmental damage these holes were doing. We could see the pollution of nearby water systems. We could see the smoke-filled skies. We could smell, and taste, the stench that came from the digging of these holes.
Then, in the second half of the 20th century we also began to notice the unseen damage these holes (and what we extracted from them) did. We began to notice the build-up of carbon in the atmosphere, and the warming of the oceans and the air.
But, still we dug. Still we damaged local ecosystems. Still we polluted waterways. Still we disrupted local, often indigenous, communities.
We continued to dig physical holes. We continued to dig our metaphorical hole.
We started to think that we needed to do something about one aspect of that metaphorical hole. We began to think we should do something about the carbon build-up.
In that single-minded focus we began to think we should stop digging for coal, oil, and gas.
We thought we should do something different.
We thought we should dig for lithium, nickel, cobalt, titanium, silicon, boron, and the other elements required for “alternative” energy.
But, we are still digging.
We are still polluting water systems. We are still disrupting ecosystems. We are still destroying bird and animal habitats. We are still dislocating indigenous communities.
Let’s go back to first principles: Stop Digging.