Destruction And Development

In this piece, Aimee Wild describes a current “development” project in the UK, the creation of a new high speed railway line, and the resulting destruction of areas of wild nature.

By Aimee Wild

A few days ago I drove to visit a loved one.

Just me and my dog. It is a warm sunny day and the motorway is closed. We are sent on a ridiculously long diversion, for miles and miles I drive slowly. I am driving with no radio on, absorbing the heat and enjoying being close to my dog. I am thinking about my daughter and my heart is open, ready to see her after several weeks.

I notice huge areas of the land where there used to be trees and bushes. The edges of woodland show me their nakedness. Trees exposed where once their kin had sheltered them. As I crawl further along the road, I start to feel fear emanating from the area. I do not know where I am. A little further along and I can see larger areas, recently cleared of trees. I feel a deeper sense of trauma. I trust this feeling and I keep my senses open. It is emotionally painful to be aware of the distress.

There is 10’ metal, security fencing and men in hard hats and high visibility clothes.

There are cranes, drills, industrial sized machinery, and vehicles parked in a secure space. There are trees howling adjacent to wounds on the land. I know where I am. I am driving through Denham, Buckinghamshire in the UK. This area is home to ancient woodland, huge amounts of wildlife, birds, mammals, endangered species, and areas of outstanding natural beauty. It is also home to the development of a high speed railway (HS2). A train that will allow travelers to get into the capitol city 20 minutes quicker than an ordinary train.

Several well-respected charities in the UK have spoken out against the harm caused by this development. Nobody has listened. I wonder if it is too painful to connect to the idea of being responsible for this level of distress. Responsible for the destruction of our natural world. I wonder what level of insanity it takes to destroy the very earth that sustains our life just to hasten arrival into a city.

I have friends in the protest camps.

I know men, women and children who have traveled miles, on foot, by car and horse to reach the area. People are refusing to be silent even though the UK courts are trying to prevent protests. I look from left to right as I drive slowly along the road. I cannot shift the image of the trees from my mind. They are left standing next to the heavy machinery that destroyed their kin. I wonder if the mycelium network is sending out warnings.

I know there are young people camped in trees to protect them from being harmed. The protesters are trying courageously to protect life. The destruction continues. The development contracts have been signed. There is no backing out for government and big business now, it’s profit, greed and speed over the health and survival of life on earth.

Aimee Wild is an educator, activist and DGR Guardian in the UK.

There are suggestions of how you can help resist the destruction here: Featured image by unknown photographer.

One thought on “Destruction And Development”

  1. High speed rail is just one of the countless schemes capitalism comes up with to build things, solely for the sake if building them. People need to get into London 20 minutes sooner the way fish need bicycles.

    We see this madness everywhere. There is rarely a “commercial break” on TV that doesn’t advertize some “new” or “revolutionary” product — either for doing something that is already being done without much difficulty, or something that humans have gotten by for thousands of years without doing at all.

    The reason for all this “development” isn’t the thing being done, but the process of doing it. Listen to any developer making his pitch for a project, and within 30 seconds, you’ll hear how many “jobs it will create.” That’s because most human endeavor is make-work projects — work for the sake of working.

    I’m reminded of the old joke about a labor leader and a naturalist, observing a tractor scooping up dirt at a building site.

    “Fifty men with shovels could be doing this job,” the labor leader growls.

    “Yes,” the naturalist agrees. “Or a thousand men with teaspoons.”

    We tear up the landscape to keep people employed. We deliberately spend billions of dollars building sports stadiums that will be declared obsolete in 40 years, so that we can spend billions more replacing them. Computers and cell phones are engineered to be useless in a matter of months, because of technologies that are supposed to “revolutionize the industry.”

    The latest marvel is 5G networks, which will compel all computer and cell phone users to buy new models that are “compatible” with 5G. We “need” 5G so that our cars and appliances can talk to each other.

    Strangely, I recall no complaints being raised, 30 or 50 years ago, about our cars and refrigerators being unable to freely converse. But today it’s a necessity. Never mind that 5G means our brains will live in a perpetual bath of microwaves, only three times the length of x-ray pulses, or that no studies have been done on the possible effects on human (or animal) health.

    It’s all about work, because without work, no one can stay in business. The logic of capitalism is to keep turning shovels and exploiting resources until the world is used up, and to do it as quickly as possible. Then the world itself will be dead and obsolete, thus creating the necessity to colonize space, where we can presumably make more work, and more profits.

    That’s the industrial plan. Alone among the animals, man must build and destroy, so that he can build again — but newer, bigger, and better.

    On what other planet is the destroyer of worlds considered the “superior” species, and the “higher intelligence”? It could only happen here, where the destroyer himself defines superiority, and the meaning of intelligence.

    The millions of other species simply live in harmony with their environment, as they have for millions of years. Unlike man, they have no ambition, no will to better themselves. And industrial man, with his “higher intelligence” and “will to succeed,” is well on his way to extinction, is just a few thousand years.

    Now is that a higher intelligence, or what?

    Astrophysicists are all familiar with the inside joke about why the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) has yet to come across a signal, anywhere in the cosmos, from another hi-tech civilization like ours. The thinking is that industrial civilizations have a very narrow window to make contact, because their growing greed and hubris make them prone to self-destruction.

    Their “higher intelligence” compels them to make exciting new discoveries, like fossil fuels, DDT, thalidomide, Teflon, chemical fertilizers, conveniently disposable plastics, 50-megawatt dams, and 50-megaton nuclear bombs. And one of their leaders made the logical deduction that it makes no sense to have the power to destroy the world, and not use it.

    Alternatively, there could be a world where the smartest animals knew well enough not to upset Nature’s applecart. For obvious reasons, we’ll never find my idea of a species of truly higher intelligence. But I continue to fantasize that it’s out there.

    Somewhere in the cosmos, I imagine a world that got to where we were around 1900, when the internal combustion engine and air travel were still in their infancy, and archaeologists were just beginning to understand why the Sumerians, the Khmer, the Mayans, and Easter Islanders all destroyed themselves. And somebody on that planet stopped and said, “Whoa! We’re right where they were! And we’re about to do it to the whole planet!”

    And so, miraculously, they stopped, shut down their coal-fired power planets, established a stable population ethic, and saw the wisdom of an economy that strived to meet real needs, instead of creating addictive desires.

    Maybe they saw the wisdom of developing ethically and spiritually, instead of materially. Maybe, unlike Western man, their dominant religion worshipped Nature, instead of some make-believe god, who told them they were better than the other animals, and gave them “dominion” over their planet.

    Maybe there’s a world out there like ours could be, if our highest values were life, love, and compassion, instead of wealth, ambition, and power.

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