Whether we realise it or not, we wield an enormous amount of power over the natural world, and yet ultimately we have to live by its laws. We (‘civilised’ humans) have created machines of mass destruction – capable of ecocide – that we seem to wield without thinking too much.
I appreciate that if you want to dig a foundation for a house or need an area of ground levelled quickly, then a mechanical digger can do in minutes what would be hours of back-breaking labour for a human. But with that power, comes immense responsibility to use it wisely.
Our next door neighbours are having their driveway expanded and covered in tarmac. As part of the improvements, a beautiful Magnolia tree was ripped out of their lawn in seconds. Shortly afterwards, the conifers you see on the right of the picture were gone too.
From a selfish perspective, our previously private lounge, where the view was of green, is now laid open and bare. It’s a shock and one that we’ll adjust to, but probably not accept. We’ll mitigate things by planting a taller hedge on the boundary and regain some privacy, but my heart is pounding with sadness and loss.
Of course I also realise that I am a hypocrite to an extent. Our house sits where there was probably woodland, or at least fields (which would have been woodland at one point in the past). Every time I drive my car, I’m using roads that were built by tearing up the natural world, and even if I didn’t drive, goods and services that I purchase travel the roads or airways and were grown or made in a manner that has caused some destruction.
It’s just a very sobering thought, looking at how much destruction one man and one machine can do in such a short amount of time. In other parts of the UK, and across the world, machines ten times larger than this one do untold damage in our quest for progress and to enable us to have ‘stuff’.
Once in a while I think we all need to stop and consider the consequences of our daily actions, and act with that knowledge in mind.
At the other end of the destruction spectrum is a lady called Emma Orbach. She lives in a mud hut in Wales, without electricity. I’m not suggesting everyone could or should live like this, but she is an inspiration.