A Tale of Pat and Nuala Geoghegan’s Farm, and Digital Toxic Waste

Metaverse, digital and waste. Who pays the price? Nature and decent people like Pat and Nuala Geoghegan.

Pat and Nuala Geoghegan are farmers from Askeaton, County Limerick. As the crow flies or the wind-based red dust pollution drifts, Askeaton is about eight kilometers (five miles) from Aughinish. Aughinish comes from the Irish word eachinis, meaning horse island. It was an island, but is now a peninsula, jutting out into the Shannon estuary. In 1983, Aughinish Alumina was established and would become Europe’s largest refinery of alumina.

Pollution Breaks a Home, Family

Pat and Nuala’s cattle began to get sick and die. The Geoghegan family got sick. Their beautiful farm became “the killing fields,” as they now call it, and they were forced to leave it. The pollution drove them from their land, drove them from their home. It broke their health, broke them financially. The Irish state abandoned them. Not simply abandoned them. Deliberately blocked their ability to get to the truth, on multiple occasions “losing” evidence that could help prove what was poisoning them and their animals. They, their animals — nature — had to foot the bill — pay the price — for progress. For jobs. For industry.

We met with Nuala and Pat in Adare, County Limerick on a calm August day in 2022. Kind and gentle people. Unfailingly polite. Clearly a couple still deeply in love and hugely supportive of each other. Pat, suffering from severe heart problems, shows stoicism in the face of enormous injustice. My wife, Rosilda, was with me during the interview. On other occasions, the interviewee would start focusing exclusively on me because I’d be asking the questions. Not Nuala and Pat. They regularly made eye contact with Rosilda and involved her in the conversation. This we call decency and good manners. It is not something you can easily manufacture. The Geoghegans are decent people.

Pat and Nuala’s voices never sound shrill or hectoring. They know their facts. They are angry. They speak their minds in calm and measured sentences. Quietly determined. Not broken.

Related Article: Tech Reliance = Not Good for Environment, Minds and Bodies

Tech Wins, Working Class Gets Sick

We can twist and turn the words, we can rationalize about green tech until the sickened cows come home, but we cannot get away from the fact that we rich people, we tech people, have benefited mightily from the sickening of nature. With our net-zero fallacies and renewable energy greenwashing, we can build a future on lies, just as so much of our present and past is built on lies.

There is nothing green about digital. It is the most artificial — and among the most toxic — things there is. Digital can never be green. It can only be less dirty.

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