‘Leave the world better than we found it’


Glen Canyon below the dam

From The Design Observer:

We are bewitched, as a culture, by a high entropy concept of quality and performance.

Our lust for speed, perfection and control blinds us to the fact that we live in a catabolically-challenged world.

Catabolic, here, is a great word used by one of my favourite writers, John Michael Greer. It describes the energy usage — the “metabolism” — of our thermo-industrial economy.

It has become so complex, and so inter-connected, that it has to burn through astronomical amounts of energy just to remain operational.

Greer explains that our economy is in danger of ‘catabolic collapse’ because it depends on perpetually growing throughputs of energy and resources — and infinitely growing throughputs are simply not going to be available.

This is why Adbusters’ True Cost campaign calls our economy a “doomsday machine”

We strive after infinite growth in a world whose carrying capacity is finite.

The better the economy performs — faster growth, higher GDP — the faster we degrade the biosphere that is the basis of life and our only home.

It’s madness. And the world is waking up to the fact that it’s madness.

The reason I remain hopeful, despite the doomsday machine being out of control, is that its replacement is now emerging.

A new kind of economy — a restorative economy — is emerging in a million grassroots projects and experiments all over the world.

The better-known examples have names like Post-Carbon Cities, or Transition Towns.

But examples also include dam removers, and seed bankers, iPhone doctors and rainwater rescuers.

Designers have an important contribution to make in this fast-emerging movement.

Not much, any more, as the creators of completely new products, buildings and communications.

“New” is an old paradigm.

“Work Faster, India!”, John Thackara, The Design Observer (PDF) Via