Future Ecology Designed

Sustainable design theory manifested in products, infrastructure, and graphic representation. A utopian glimpse of a future New Zealand where environmental considerations are of tantamount importance, and society is designed to accommodate the native ecosystem.

In Reply

My greatest fear is if, as you say, sustainablility becomes a throwaway word. I mentioned earlier I don't particularly like the term, as to sustain doesn't particularly imply improvement per se, rather the ability to continue in a mode of life indefinitely. I want to see vast areas of lowland broadleaf-conifer native forest reclaimed, not what little we have left simply protected.

Another worry is the corporate idea that the current levels of consumption/production can be continued if they are made more 'sustainable'- Treehugger is full of examples of products which may very well be low-impact to operate, but still exist to fulfill a marketing niche which is not especially important. I don't really have faith in the idea that rapid economic growth and ecological sustainability can both be retained concurrently.

'Business can be a vehicle for change. Prosperity can help us build the kind of world we want. Scientific exploration, innovative design, and cultural evolution are the most powerful tools we have. Entrepreneurial zeal and market forces, guided by sustainable policies, can propel the world into a bright green future.'

- Business will only ever be guided by the most effective contemporary means to maximise profit margins. A bright green future will only exist where it can visibly improve market value. I am extremely cynical of the idea that 'Business can be a vehicle for change'. It is business that markets us products we don't need, manufactured via methods the earth can not support, and that constantly requires these products to be replaced through planned obsolescence so profitable production may continue.

'Today you can drive a Toyota Prius that burns far less gasoline than a conventional car. Tomorrow we might see vehicles that consume no fossil fuels and emit no greenhouse gases. Combine cars like that with smarter urban growth and we're well on our way to sustainable transportation.'

- Except that the total energy expenditure in manufacture is greater than that of conventional vehicles, the total expected life of the battery is 8 years, and when this time is up the car is vastly less environmentally sound when it is retired, due to the quantities of noxious heavy metals within the battery. Future cars may not emit greenhouse gases directly, but manufacturing needs to be completely reviewed, and the entire life cycle fully considered. And marketing personal vehicles with a built-in obsolescence of 8 years, while profitable, is ecologically reprehensible.

I don't see a solution to the current quagmire, without 'Asking people in the world's wealthiest, most advanced societies to turn their backs (so to speak) on the very forces that drove such abundance'.

I don't understand how you can publish a website named 'Worldchanging' but refuse to try. I am not being naive, I know this is borderline impossible- People need to fully understand the social and ecological implications of where this 'abundance' came from, but they will refuse to confront the answers. The USA consumes resources at a rate that would take 5 earths to support if the world population followed suit. I don't see how you can continue to consume products at the current rate while scaling back the associated resources by 500%.

'Quality is wealth. More is not better. Better is better. You don't need a bigger house; you need a different floor plan. You don't need more stuff; you need stuff you'll actually use.'

-This is spot on. Sorry for the depressing post, my 16 year old eco-Marxist self is talking to my conscience....

Vis the scooter, I am really happy the concept has been proven. However, my own particular take on such a concept has changed enough since last year that I don't feel too bad about the similarity.

Edit: This article was written by the same person, but is a marvellous call to arms. It is strange how different the tone is, it could almost be defined as 'Asking people in the world's wealthiest, most advanced societies to turn their backs on the very forces that drove such abundance'.

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