Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Imagine What Comes After "Green"

The folks over at World Changing have posted a very interesting piece about what it will really take to make the environmental changes necessary to stem the destructiveness of our current way of living and get to a more balanced and sustainable model of existence. The essay is interactive and the authors want your ideas!

Here is how the article begins,
The greatest opportunity of our generation: that's what could be waiting for us, after we leave "green" behind. Saving the biosphere and spreading sustainable prosperity is going to take a lot more than doing things in a more environmentally-conscious manner; it's going to demand we remake much of our material civilization.

And that's good news. It frees us up to think in really new ways, to innovate, to create, to re-invent. Our day is almost defined by the exploding number of people who have access to tools and models and ways of thinking that were previously rare or expert or unimagined. If we live in an age of stark ecological limits, we also live in an age of widespread potential innovation.

We can see on the horizon the silhouette of something incredibly hopeful and exciting: a world of people whose boundless creativity within natural limits uplifts humanity and remakes civilization to be first sustainable, even restorative. This crisis could end up being the greatest opportunity of our generation.

In this work, though, we have two enemies: time and outdated thinking.

We must go fast now. We have possibilities today that we'll lose with every passing year, and the tipping points loom ahead: beyond those, only disaster awaits...

... we also think that this is a moment when we all need many more people iterating their ideas for real change. So, as a starter for that kind of conversation, we're holding a little collaborative challenge.

The idea is simple: share, in words, images or sounds, your idea for the end of some outdated aspect of contemporary society and its replacement with a better way of doing things. Start with the phrase, "Imagine no..."

Then put a link to your entry (or the text itself) in the comments below.

The best examples we know about in two weeks will get prominent coverage here on Worldchanging, and we have some swanky prizes for the folks who do the best job...

Here are a couple of the ideas they came up with as examples:

Imagine no garbage cans. Imagine recycling everything that comes through your door. It's not a pipe dream. With a new generation of zero-waste approaches, cities are building systems where everything you buy is designed to be recycled, composted, or disassembled and reused. Instead of being thrown away, materials flow again and again through closed loops. This process saves huge amounts of resources and energy, reduces toxics and creates jobs. So next time you're taking out the trash, imagine what the world would look like without it. Imagine no garbage cans.
Imagine no warning labels. Imagine bringing nothing into your home that isn't safe for you, your children or your pets. It's not a pipe dream. With ideas like non-toxic production and green chemistry we could eliminate the use of chemicals now feared to cause cancer, birth defects and reproductive problems, and remove them from our homes and ecosystems. Scientists have already developed safe non-toxic alternatives for hundreds of once questionable products, from kitchen cleaners to baby toys. So the next time you go to the market, imagine not needing to read the fine print. Imagine no warning labels.
Imagine no smokestacks. Imagine a world where all our energy comes from clean and renewable sources like wind, solar and hydro power; and where we produce no excess greenhouse gas emissions. It's not a pipe dream. Already, countries like New Zealand, Germany and Sweden are planning ways to make their economies carbon neutral within the next few decades--and we could do it here. We could run everything from our factories to our cars on climate-friendly clean energy. So the next time you go through an industrial area, imagine breathing fresh, clean air. Imagine no smokestacks.
Imagine no air conditioners. Imagine living in a home heated only by the sun and cooled only by the breeze. It's not a pipe dream. With green building techniques and innovative design we can build houses that are warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer, and that use almost no energy at all. Better still, these homes are healthier, more comfortable and less expensive. So the next time you reach for the thermostat, imagine living in a home that doesn't need one. Imagine no air conditioning.
Imagine no sidewalks. Imagine living in a compact community where people own the streets; where kids play, friends sit sipping coffee and cars move slowly when they move at all. It's not a pipe dream. In cities around the world, good design is producing vibrant, compact urban neighborhoods where streets are used as public living rooms and life without a car is made easy. So the next time you're waiting to cross a busy street, imagine a city where people, not cars, come first. Imagine no sidewalks.
Imagine no sprawl. Imagine, instead of a long drive past strip malls and subdivisions, stopping for coffee on your walk to work, or enjoying a magazine while riding light rail through neighborhoods brimming with character and activity. It's not a pipe dream. Cities around the world are creating public transit systems that are efficient, comfortable and simple to use. Smart growth policies preserve local farms and forests, while cutting both commute times and greenhouse gases. So the next time you find yourself lost in suburbia, imagine a different American Dream. Imagine no sprawl.

And there are lots more ideas at the site...


Everyone should read this essay, discuss it, post some ideas. So, check it out and send the link on to five people you know...

What do you think? What comes after "green"?

Here are a few other good articles from World Changing on the environment:

• Alex Steffen and Julia Steinberger, "The Problem With Big Green"

• Alex Steffen, "Al Gore, Clean Energy and a Better Nation"

• Kathryn Cooper, "Human Ingenuity at the World Wind Energy Summit"

Here is their archive of Earth-related stories...

The revolution is NOW.

No comments:

Post a Comment