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The Next Green Revolution
How technology is leading environmentalism out of the anti-business, anti-consumer wilderness.
Alex Nikolai Steffen, Wired
For decades, environmentalists have warned of a coming climate crisis. Their alarms went unheeded, and last year we reaped an early harvest: a singularly ferocious hurricane season, record snowfall in New England, the worst-ever wildfires in Alaska, arctic glaciers at their lowest ebb in millennia, catastrophic drought in Brazil, devastating floods in India – portents of global warming’s destructive potential.
Green-minded activists failed to move the broader public not because they were wrong about the problems, but because the solutions they offered were unappealing to most people. They called for tightening belts and curbing appetites, turning down the thermostat and living lower on the food chain. They rejected technology, business, and prosperity in favor of returning to a simpler way of life. No wonder the movement got so little traction. Asking people in the world’s wealthiest, most advanced societies to turn their backs on the very forces that drove such abundance is naive at best.
With climate change hard upon us, a new green movement is taking shape, one that embraces environmentalism’s concerns but rejects its worn-out answers. Technology can be a font of endlessly creative solutions. 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.
(14 May 2006)
Is this a new way forward, or is it just another variation of the Techno-fix? If you agree with Alex, then see WorldChanging, the pre-eminent voice for the “bright green future.” Even if you disagree, WorldChanging has a constant stream of fascinating material. -BA
Special NYT Section: the Business of Green
Various, New York Times
The New York Times has a special section on business and environmentalism, with about a dozen articles online, including:
To Revitalize a City, Try Spreading Some Mulch (Chicago)
Companies and Critics Try Collaboration
What’s Kind to Nature Can Be Kind to Profits
Technology’s Future: A Look at the Dark Side
They Tilt and Whirl While Spinning Off Cash
Many Little Piggies, Handled With Care
(17 May 2006)
Popular version of Millennium Assessment Report (on biodiversity) released
In time for the 22 May 2006, which is the International Day for Biological Diversity, GreenFacts has published a popularised version of the Millennium Assessment Report on Biodiversity. It is available at www.greenfacts.org/biodiversity/ in English, and soon also in French, Dutch and Spanish. The summary was produced in partnership with IUCN (the World Conservation Union), Countdown 2010 and UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
This year’s International Day for Biological Diversity marks the 16th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on Biological Diversity. According to this Convention, Biodiversity – the number, variety, and variability of living organisms – is not just about plants, animals, microorganisms and their ecosystems, but also about humans and their needs such as food security, clean air and water, as well as a healthy environment.
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) was launched by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in 2001 to provide scientific information concerning the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being and options for responding to those changes. It involved over 1300 scientists from 95 countries and produced a series of assessment reports.
“Only by understanding the environment and how it works, can we make the necessary decisions to protect it,” said Kofi Annan in a message launching the MA reports. “The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment is an unprecedented contribution to our global mission for development, sustainability and peace.”
The Biodiversity Synthesis Report is one of several thematic synthesis reports published by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. A popularised version of the overarching synthesis report “Ecosystems and Human Well-being” has also been published by GreenFacts at www.greenfacts.org/ecosystems/
(17 May 2006)