Calculate Your Degrees of Separation from Extraction – Discussion

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It’s really hard to get paid for doing a job nowadays that’s not either directly involved in unsustainable natural resource extraction or closely related to it. Obvious extraction is anything that’s digging up or cutting down natural resources in an unsustainable way. Extraction includes big ag, in that we’re altering the natural landscape so much that it’s no longer able to naturally support itself. This is bad because it’s contributing to drastic climate change, species extinction, migration of human populations, all kinds of unnatural, difficult things. We’re just sucking all the life out of it and then leaving it behind. That’s the extraction we’re talking about. It’s so unnecessary to do it that way but it’s the only way we’re going to get paid because that’s the way our economy is set up. We’re feeding the virus. What’s you’re situation?

  1. You are directly involve in an extractive job or company. 
  2. Your work or products are dependent upon production in the extractive industry, for example
    • architecture, building, you need literally tons of processed resources, wood, concrete, metal, etc. (unless you’re building net-zero let’s say), and you’re using lots of energy
    • medicine, healthcare, chemicals make up the medicines, single-use devices, made from fossil fuels, and production of the chemicals causes the pollution that makes people sick 
    • retail/restaurant, unless your products/services are local/renewable, your business depends upon extraction.
    • You depend upon shipment of your products or require use of networks using extractive energy. 
    • You work online and need to use a phone. All that needs energy, and nowadays that’s still mostly extractive.
    • Renewable energy: people don’t like to think about this, but we have to consider the extractive side of this. We can definitely calculate on a lifecycle value that renewables are less extractive, but who is out there calculating emissions from the production of the massive amount of solar energy needed? I think it’s been done with modeling but we have to continuously be working towards improving this situation, and not just pretend like it’s not an issue.
  3. You are being supported by your partner while you pursue your “passions” for climate action or sustainability, or you’re supported by donors who have benefited from extraction.

This reminds me of my economics teacher and cross country coach “Windy” Childs in high school who said on the first day of economics class: If you can tell me something that’s free, you get an automatic A for the semester. Of course he always could come up with a way to describe how something someone came up with was not actually free. We might try to say that public school teachers are exempt, but then we have to assume that they’re getting paid from taxpayer dollars which may not be “clean,” or taxes collected from local extractive industries. Midwives maybe? Natural practitioners? There are so few things and they’re so hard to make into a job that supports one enough to do it as a stand-alone job. Most of the time we’re hearing about how activists have other jobs or are supported by their organization that’s out raising funds. There’s no “sustainable” money in it, because our society does not value it properly. Obviously someone out there fighting to make things safer or less pollutive to society is doing a valuable service.

But it’s too hard to think about all this stuff, we all have too much on our plates already!! And obviously we can’t just stop doing any or all of these things that are connected to unsustainable extraction. They are literally essential to our survival in some ways. We all have to use the internet and power our phones right?? There’s almost no way to extricate ourselves from it. Almost. And we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. We have to improve if we can, or we stagnate and just perpetuate the behavior that’s literally contributing to our early demise. That’s why we have to transform our economy. Not simple, but worth doing. We have to stop thinking that we “have” to do things the way they’ve always been done. We have to extricate those tentacles of extraction that are (deliberately for profit) tentacled into our lives. We can choose to start to contribute to purposeful change! We just have to, all of us, decide to do it. The more we talk about it, the better. Please login or register and leave comments!

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