To understand why humans are driving life to extinction, we must understand how we use and abuse materials. We are destroying materials and creating toxic waste at a level that would have been unimaginable even fifty years ago.
The materials we have on this Earth have accumulated over billions of years. The way these materials are organized and stored has had a major impact on the formation of our environment. Major disturbance and reordering of these materials will cause major disturbance and reordering of our environment.
Of all the CO2 damage humans have done, we’ve done a truly frightening 75% of it in the last 50 years. In the last 50 years, we’ve moved from mining 25 billion tons of material a year to 100 billion tons, and are on target to mine 170 billion tons by 2050. That’s a Mount Everest of material mined every single year (and growing) from 2050.
Part of this mining craze is driven by so-called “green” technology and so-called “clean” energy. All over the world, and particularly in rural, biodiverse and populated largely by indigenous people, the mining oligarchs are moving in with their thugs and heavy machinery to tap a mining bonanza for “green” metals.
They are being backed by governments. Such as the Irish government. The Irish government is seen as the most mining-friendly government in the world. It has plans to turn much of rural Ireland into a giant mining site. Why? Instead of actually facing the deep challenges and societal changes required by the multiple environmental crises we face, the Irish government instead sees an opportunity to make money and drive more growth. The Irish government and civil service are absolutely obsessed with growth and GDP. They believe—rightly—that it’s much easier to sell mining than to sell the idea that people shouldn’t be driving planet-destroying SUVs.
Right now, the Irish government has allocated more than 25% of Ireland for mining prospecting, which is 100 times more than our neighbour England has done. Irish officials are aggressively promoting Ireland’s mining potential internationally, talking up our “practical” environmental regulations, while at home they are trying to keep things as quiet as possible, telling mining prospectors to “move everything in at night and move everything out at night and tell locals as little as possible.”
Ireland has a reputation as an ecological desert. Like Big Tech, we are green only on the surface. Due to industrial farming and other toxic industries, we have lost over 60% of our birds since 1970, and over 90% of our salmon. We are constantly fined by the European Union for our “practical” approach to the environment.
Mining is always devastating to the environment. Groundwater is gone. The soil and air are poisoned. The Irish government claims that it wants to turn rural Ireland into a Green Sacrifice Zone for “renewable” energy and the like. It’s just looking for critical materials necessary to build those EVs, solar panels and wind turbines. Strange then that over 90% of prospecting licenses granted include gold, a non-critical metal. Gold is for decadence and greed, and that sadly describes a lot of modern Ireland. Irish people have grown to love our SUV lifestyle, and while we talk a great talk about addressing global warming, we will miss all our targets, as usual.
I’ve spent six months talking to environmental protectors all over the island of Ireland to hear how they’re working to protect their communities from the mining extravaganza being unleashed. It’s a six-part podcast and there’s a link to episode one below.