Tomorrow marks 16 months since I set up camp to Protect Thacker Pass with my friend Will Falk, the only man crazy enough to join me on a mile-high mountainside in the dead of winter to protect a wild and beautiful land from an open-pit lithium mine.
Since then, we’ve weathered insane storms, been harassed by the cops, began working with native allies, launched a lawsuit against the federal government, discovered that Peehee Mu’huh is a sacred site and the site of a U.S. Army massacre of native people and that the government has been covering that fact up, been fined $50,000 for setting up latrines for native elders, been threatened with violence, organized as hard as we can, and shed blood sweat and tears for this land we love.
The fight to Protect Thacker Pass continues, and so I continue to spend as much time as possible on the ground at Thacker Pass, organizing, reporting, and standing up against the greenwashing and ecocide of Lithium Americas Corporation and the federal government (both Democrats and Republicans).
If this fight speaks to you, I urge you to do three things:
1. Visit our website, sign up for updates, make some phone calls to build political pressure, and donate if you can.
2. Educate yourself and spread the word about the harms of lithium mining, the greenwashing of so-called “green technology,” and the real solutions to the ecological crisis and global warming (I’m working on a piece tackling this subject – expect that soon).
3. Most importantly, stand the hell up and start organizing and building power against lithium mining and electric vehicle lies — in addition to fossil fuels, highways, logging, overfishing, sprawl, overpopulation, and all the rest of the ecological madness consuming the world. We need to do the hard work of stopping these atrocities by whatever means are effective and necessary. There are no shortcuts.
Feel free to reach out if you want to meet up at Thacker Pass. ✊🏼
PS – I made a mistake in the video. If you make $30,000, you’re not in the top 1% globally. Depending on the source you look at, the top 1% in income was between $34,000 and $50,000 per person back in 2012. So it’s higher now.
Hello everyone. It’s early May at Thacker Pass. It’s springtime. The bloom is here with wildflowers and insects and new life.
I just stumbled across a bird’s nest out here in the middle of the project area. I don’t believe it was a killdeer but some shorebird a little bit smaller than a killdeer, maybe some type of sandpaper or something like that. The babies are just tiny, tiny tiny. They must have hatched just–I don’t know when–in the last few days. They are barely moving at all. I accidentally spooked the parent off the nest, who flew off little ways. It’s starting to get cool here so I didn’t want to leave those babies exposed to the cold for too long. So I just snapped a couple of pictures and moved on quick.
I just got news that a man who I grew up across the street from–I was friends with his daughter when we were kids, a man who was an artist; he actually befriended my grandmother when she moved in with my family towards the end of her life, he became close with her and did a lot of artwork with her–he passed away last week. I just learned this. So just in the span of about 60 seconds I saw this new life and then heard that news. I was actually on the phone with my mom when I stumbled across that nest. She told me this at the same time she told me that our neighbor, a good friend of the family neighbor from when I was growing up is just heading into the hospital right now. My dad is takeng him in with some sort of health issue.
This is the juxtaposition of life and death, rebirth. What’s at stake here at Thacker Pass is not just a natural death, a good death for these creatures and these plants, it’s species death. It’s the death of entire ecosystems. It’s the death of that entire process, the destruction of that process, that cycle. That’s the sacrilege. That’s what this company wants to do.
And for what? For money? For lithium batteries? For electric cars? Breaking the cycle–that’s the sacrilege. It makes me furious. It’s stupid. Frankly it’s very stupid, what these people are doing: destroying the planet; destroying life; destroying ecology. The only known planet in the universe to support life, and these people are destroying it.
Alexi Zawadzki, who used to work for a pipeline company, before he became the president of North American operations for Lithium Americas, used to work for Veresen Inc, which got purchased by the same company behind the Jordan Cove pipeline and LNG terminal. These people are not environmentalists. They’re not in favor of life. They’re not protectors of the land. They’re not concerned about global warming. These people are in it for money. This man is making almost a million dollars a year to try and destroy this place and to destroy similar places in Argentina, and now, Ontario, this new project that Lithium Americas is investing in. This man is making millions, millions for destroying the world; for destroying the future; for destroying the wildlife of this place, the cycle of life, the watercycle, the soil, the ancient migratory routes of the pronghorn.
And, of course, it’s not just this project. There’s the Jindalee Corporation lithium project proposed for just north of Thacker Pass on the Oregon side of the border. There’s another project from a company called Acme Lithium proposed on the Oregon side of the border as well. There’s lithium exploration outside of Pyramid Lake. There’s lithium projects in the works everywhere.
And that’s just one industry. You can’t make an electric car with lithium alone. You need iron ore; you need steel; you need cobalt; you need nickel; you need aluminum; you need plastics; you need oil. You need all of these things. You need a road; you need concrete; you need asphalt. You need the charging infrastructure; the electric grid; all of it.
This is a system that is destroying our world. This is a system called industrial civilization that is a maladaptive process. It’s destructive. It’s destroying ecology, and ultimately, that means it will destroy us, unless we move away from it, unless we change directions.
The idiots with high IQs are running the world. Idiots with high IQs.
John Trudell talks about tech-no-logic. He talked about tech-no-logic: civilization. That’s what these people are: these lithium people, these Tesla people, these electric car people, these people who believe that wind and solar and electric cars are going to save the world. Tech, no logic. No logic. It’s a fairy tale. It’s make believe.
And so many people are invested in that idea. Because somehow they believe that it’s the lesser of two evils. Yeah, there may be harm, but it’s the lesser of two evils. Tell that to the goddamn birds that are about to get bulldozed out here. Tell that to the people who are going to be breathing in the cancerous pollution from this project. Tell that to the people in the Congo, the child slaves digging up cobalt for these battery technologies. Tell that to the future generations who will no longer be able to survive and exist in this place, because the water is going to be gone and what’s left is going to be toxified; because the topsoil is going to be destroyed; because the watersheds will be poisoned. Tell that to them. Tell them it’s the lesser of two evils. That’s easy for you to say.
You know people in the United States don’t fucking realize this shit. If you make $30,000 a year, you’re in the top 1% richest people globally, top 1%. We have more energy and material wealth available to us than anyone before in human history. We have such an abundance of material goods, and that comes at a goddamn cost. That cost is growing.
And all this electric vehicle stuff, this green technology, the solar, this wind energy and so on–this is nothing more than an attempt to extend that way of life, to try and make that sustainable, in the face of global warming, in the face of declining availability of oil.
You know, there are many people, and I’m one of them at times, who argue that these alternative energy technologies are in many cases driven more by peak oil than by any environmental desires, desires to protect the planet. That’s the reality here, okay. That’s the reality of the situation.
We are facing an ecological apocalypse. We’re in the sixth mass extinction of life on this planet, the climate is breaking down, destabilizing. There are plastics and all kinds of industrial toxins in our blood, in our lungs, in our cells, in our tissues, our muscles, breast milk. Somebody called me out on that–I’m not saying the formula is better. I grew up the son of a midwife, the son of a lactation consultant. That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is the world has been toxified and it’s ongoing.
This can’t continue. This can’t go on. We can’t allow it to go on. Because every day, every hour, every year, every decade that this continues, the situation just gets worse and worse.
And this lithium, this electric vehicle bullshit? This is nothing more than an attempt to keep the addicts going, to keep it going just a little bit longer. You know what I might be out of the whiskey, but I think I got a little bottle of something left, I got a little finger full left in the this bottle in the back of the pantry. You know, I think I tucked something away back there, from that camping trip last last year. I think it got a couple beers tucked away in the garage and the mini fridge. That’s an addict trying to feed their addiction, to keep their addiction going as long as possible. That’s the situation we’re in right now. We are in a state of energy addiction, of materialist addiction. This society is an addicted society.
But it’s also an abused society. We’ve been forced into this way of life. This wasn’t something that our ancestors necessarily chose and said “This is the best way to be. This is the best life. This is the future that we all want.”
There’s no denying that the material abundance of industrial civilization has provided many benefits to human beings. But those benefits come at costs that are unacceptable. They cannot be continued. We cannot absorb these costs for any longer. The planet cannot absorb these costs.
And that’s why I’m not just against this lithium mine. I’m not just against the other lithium mine up there, because of the sage grouse, because it is a particularly special area. No, I’m against lithium mining in general. I’m against mining. I’m against industrial extraction in general, because we need to get our shit under control. We are running rampant on this planet. There are 8 billion people consuming incredible amounts of energy and materials, especially the people in the wealthy nations like here.
And then you get these charlatans, these liars, these magicians like Elon Musk, who come along and try and convince us all that this is green, that this is green to continue destroying the planet in this way? Alexi Zawadzki and all the rest at Lithium Americas trying to tell us it’s green to destroy this entire landscape behind me? Get out of here with that fucking bullshit. I have no patience for that anymore. And nobody should have any patience for it. If we want to actually address these crises, we can’t live in these fairytales anymore. We are in a dramatically bad situation and it is getting worse every day.
This is not a simple problem. It is a conundrum. There are no simple answers. There is no easy way out. We are in a state of ecological overshoot, and we are in a state of ecological collapse. The future is going to be dire. But if we accept lies like these–these bright green lies–if we accept them, it only makes things worse. It only becomes more dystopian. There are only more species extinctions, more income inequality, more division and war and destruction of the land. That is not the path to a future that we want.
We need to take things in hand, we need a different path. And it starts with just acknowledging the situation we’re in; acknowledging that we are dependent upon this planet for everything that we have–everything–and having the humility to take our place on the planet, not to become the masters of everything, not to rule the world and conquer and extract and take what we want, but to participate as one form of life among many on this planet. To accept that that means yes, we will have less. We will not get what we want. We will not get our way. But that’s not the point of life.
Max, I like your passion. What has Archeology done to help protect the area there. I drive a good portion of North Texas and see fields of wind generation stations and generally feel good about what I see. Keeping my comment short, is the answer simply less is more?
Certainly not all wind turbines do this, but many in Texas power oilfields: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-energy-renewables/the-permian-paradox-texas-shale-players-go-green-to-drill-more-idUSKBN1XI1HH. In recorded human history of energy use, new forms of energy just add on to the total energy we use (not ever replacing it). Just one look at the chart of global primary energy consumption illustrates this basic fact (https://ourworldindata.org/energy-production-consumption). New energy powers more growth (which the global economy requires in order to not collapse); more growth expands human development, human population, and human consumption; all of that then demands more energy.
Yes, the answer is less. That will require completely changing our way of being on the planet, from a way of life that prioritizes consumption and growth to a way of life that prioritizes what all our lives ultimately depend upon: flourishing natural communities on a healthy planet. It is unlikely to happen, but if we want there to be something rather than nothing once the armageddon of industrial civilization is finally done, we have no other choice.