Okay here’s an experiment. Look at a few Facebook posts and/or Twitter posts sometime and ask of each one: How does this help the natural world?
Here’s my pick of the day, a tweet by Brad Plumer who writes about climate change for the New York Times. He’s an energy policy wonk, a huge fan of so-called renewables and a green economy, and keeping capitalism, the economy, and industrial civilization going. I read his stuff to keep up on what the various candidates are proposing in their climate change plans, and to keep up on what energy companies are doing.
But nothing Brad writes ever has anything to do with the actual, real, physical, natural world, or helping the natural world in any way. For instance, this tweet is about his hopes that we can replace ICE cars with electric cars, so-called “emission free” vehicles. Of course, he is ignoring that nothing made out of steel, aluminum, copper, lithium, rubber, oil and many other metals and minerals extracted from the Earth can ever be emissions free. And of course he’s also forgetting the huge amount of environmental destruction the extraction and refining and manufacturing of all of those elements and parts causes, most of which happens in places where the people who live there have no alternative but to work in mines and manufacturing jobs that will kill them young, but apparently this doesn’t matter to Brad.
Nor is he considering the miles and miles of concrete and asphalt roads required to transport those cars, and required to give the buyers of those cars a place to drive those cars. Concrete is of course one of the most CO2 intensive substances to make on Earth. And asphalt is, well, oil. And worst of all, he’s completely ignoring the habitat that was destroyed to make all those roads… the wetlands paved over, and the forests paved over, and the fields paved over, and the rivers diverted and imprisoned. And he apparently doesn’t give two figs about all the animals who are too afraid to cross those roads and so can’t get to some part of their world they used to rely on for food and water and loved ones, or the animals who work up the courage to try to cross the road and die doing so.
And what about the lifestyle those cars support? The commuting to jobs at companies that make more stuff, stuff that uses “resources”, resources that are actually water and trees and metals and minerals that must be stolen and cut down and dug out of the Earth, destroying more habitat, more life in the process. Oh and of course those jobs are in buildings in cities that have paved over even more habitat, and killed countless living beings.
Imagine a car that sits in the middle of a circle, a circle encompassing every life impacted by the making of that car and the implications of that car.
There are millions, billions, perhaps trillions of lives that are lost in a widening circle of death that extends out from every car — gas and electric — made on Planet Earth.
Why are we celebrating the possibility of replacing ICE cars with electric cars, instead of mourning those lives lost? Or better yet, resisting? Digging up roads and blockading the mines, quitting our jobs and walking a lot, NOT buying electric cars. After all, we can live without cars. We cannot live without the natural world.
How do electric cars help the natural world? They don’t. Electric cars allow us to pretend we are doing something good, when in fact, all we are doing is expanding that ever widening circle of death.