This is Nauru.
It is mentioned in Naomi Klein’s new book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate. I looked it up on Google Earth to see what it looked like.
It is a telling story and a bit of a micro scale lesson in our relationship with the Earth. Nauru, as you can see, is a remote island in the south Pacific – like in the Broadway play.
For thousands of years the Nauruans lived on the island subsisting off of fish, birds and farming. At some point it was discovered by foreign interests that the entire island was made up of phosphate of lime, a valuable fertilizer for the rest of the world. So, they started mining it from the inside out. Of course, this brought tremendous prosperity to the inhabitants and by the 70’s and 80’s the per capita income was one of the highest on earth.
At one point the people could see the writing on the wall and made trust fund investments in the outside world to sustain themselves. The plan failed. Mining operations did not scale down and rebuilding the islands ecology did not happen.
Today, all that is left is the ring road and the slim line of habitation along it. There is no centre. All food is brought in from the outside and poverty is rampant. Add to that, sea level is now rising to take away the last strip of habitable land. In fifty years or less there will probably be no Nauru.
We are all floating on spaceship Earth, as isolated in the Universe as Nauru is in the Pacific Ocean. We too eat up our resources from the inside often with little care for the future. We try to make deals with the market to sustain our monetary future which is only useful if what we need can be bought. And, our sea level is rising as well.
Naomi Klein’s book is really an enlightening read.