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Olduvai III: Catacylsm
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Stop Using the Word ‘Sustainability’ for God’s Sake

No. This is not sustainable. Photo by Appolinary Kalashnikova on Unsplash

For millions of years us, humans, were part of Nature. We were born in the wild, lived in the wild, died in the wild. We ate what we found, drank the waters of rivers and streams, breathed air purified by trees. Just like any other mammalian species on Earth. The false belief, that we’ve somehow moved above and beyond that thanks to our ingenuity is just a fantasy. Or rather: pure unadulterated hogwash. We still eat plants and animals feeding on grass and seeds. We still drink the waters of rivers and streams. We still breathe air purified by trees. The only difference is, that today there is a massive blob of buildings, roads, machines, mines and supermarkets — now weighing more than all things living — placed between us and Nature.

All technology did, in its narrowest technical sense, is that it has enabled us to extract raw materials, clear-cut forests, harvest fish and food beyond all sustainable levels. Sustainability in its original sense means: an ability for something to go on unabated forever (or at least long enough not to matter). All I’m writing about on this blog since its inception, is that nothing — not a single thing — we do and call ‘civilization’ today can go on for much too long, let alone forever.

Extracting resources (especially by mining) destroys ecosystems, takes a lot of energy and precious fresh water, poisons rivers and the soil, and ultimately depletes the very resource it is going after. It is a self-destructing and thus a self-limiting activity. Mining is by definition unsustainable. Now, the problem is, that everything we call civilization today from buildings to roads, from agriculture to distributing food, from machines to electricity starts with extracting resources from the ground. No exceptions.

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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