If You Give a Man a Shovel: a story for Earth Day


If you give a man a shovel, he’s going to want to dig.

He will dig holes in the ground.

He’ll want to plant something in the holes, so he’ll ask you for some seeds.

The plants growing from the seeds turn out to be edible, and lots of people will want to eat these plants.


He will want to dig more holes and plant more plants, so he’ll ask for more land and more shovels. You will have to clear the land of all vegetation and wildlife so he can grow his crops.

He will make lots of money selling his plants, so he will keep planting the same thing season after season in his fields, and he will invent easier ways to harvest his crops.


The soil will deteriorate from his harvesting methods and from his single crop farming. He will ask you for fertilizer to make the soil better and the plants grow faster.

The fertilizer will encourage weeds to grow in the fields, so he will ask you for an herbicide to kill the weeds.

The insects that have been eating the weeds will need a new food source, so they will start eating his crops. He will ask you to make insecticides to kill the bugs.

There are lots of bugs on the lots of plants, so he will need lots of insecticide. And more fertilizer. And more herbicide to kill the weeds that regrow in the re-fertilized soil.


As his crops get bigger and bigger, he will glut the market, so he will ask you for money to subsidize his farming.

He will look for new ways to market his crops, and will invent high-fructose plant syrup (hfps) and people will begin putting hfps in all manner of food.


As processed foods containing hfps become more and more unhealthy, people will begin to die prematurely from their poor eating habits.

He will need to dig holes to bury the people who die prematurely from poor eating habits, and since he needs to dig holes…


he will probably ask you for a shovel.

The end?

“In nature, nothing exists alone.”
~ Rachel Carson, 1962

Earth Day 2019: Protect our Species

About Maggie C

Stained glass artist, writer, respecter of life.
This entry was posted in humanity, poetry, serious stuff and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to If You Give a Man a Shovel: a story for Earth Day

  1. Peggy Lemmer says:

    And this creature never learns moderation and symbiosis. That is not the nature of a parasite.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. M says:

    and Bingo was his name-o. The banker will be happy to offer a government-guaranteed loan. ~

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a great summation. It sounds so simple and obvious and yet they keep doing just this.

    Liked by 1 person

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