Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Grand Design is not to go backwards

Our local tractor wreckers (Wilson street and Stoneyford) and farmers couldn't, I am sure , cope with Kevin Maclouds enthusiasm for using thoroughly useful Old Massey Ferguson's cast bits for a chair. And we rural poor might also join the chorus and say " while we love the direction you are taking Kevin ( recycle, reduce  and reuse) we have to say, if you are listening, -- that we still have got a lot to learn in our journey to sustainability.We are richer than we think to waste as much as we do. Let me repeat that - We still have  got a lot to learn in our journey to sustainability.We are richer than we think to not as yet see the way through .

Don't get me wrong I love the idea and watching him havago!  --Key issue -There is great hope if we concentrate, not on technology, or " use" condemnation ( as The Greens often do ) but on "footprint" .Some people don't need old Masseys like we do .  Its not about stopping things as much is it about slowing things down ( Our rejection of a blind faith in progress( his theme) and my theme ( rejection of industrial economic modelling and the aforementioned -- to both environment and agriculture )   . Its not about condemnation of what people do, as much as it is about how they do it ( These are complex motivation issues like toxic mixtures of ignorance and arrogance -- for another time ) . Our consensus must be to resist the pressure of the economic system- carefully.
The positive power of that Grand Design program is that it suggests that real hope for a sustainable future is possible.   And it is.  As a competent scientist in this area,  I reject the many careless and unprofessional judgemnets of  political movements and the media. These half baked's ( including a over representation of ignorant old cynics)   often carelessly and ignorantly deny young people the possibility that they can live on this planet without killing everything else before its time here .
This is some call,  so please ask me questions .

Lets' face one thing we can agree on . The BBC program, where Kevin  describes his journey on his house is thoroughly engaging and positive  Eg .the  carbon we eat becomes the carbon we cook with Never before I feel sure, have the audince enjoyed so much , the idea of pooing and farting for profit ; cooking with your own gas , the pancakes , the leather . the ideas . 
The idea of living sustainably suddenly seems possible . Kevin  himself describes the experience as one of the best he has ever experienced .
My wish for you and for us is a more positive culture with both realism and realistic hope.Not one of course that misrepresents or ignores genuine ecological boundaries.

What are we doing wrong ? Our society is wavering in a uncertain hope with a mass of sometimes contradictory imperatives.( The reality is that conservation and production involve sometimes competing imperatives  and are both complex and subtle ( cf maths  in an modern industrial system). This complexity risks confusion.
We should not overreact 
We should not , however , in my opinion , yearn to live like peasants ( recurring reaction in history) when that overworked and unrested part of our world so desperately needs to journey with us to better engineering design with nature ......All our households can work , but they only work when we choose to keep working ( and playing ) hard together. Playing you say ? - now you see why we were told to take Sundays off !

Does anyone agree with me ? - at least partially?   Let me know what you think!
Kevin  while not a professional ecologist is,  I think also saying what I am saying ; "We have still got a lot to learn in our journey to sustainability" ( and we may not even make it )  I will also  presume to write for him though ( sending him a copy of this ) " too many people on my programs in the past haven't got the balance right " . "One of  the areas where people consistently get it wrong is by thinking "technology"  is the answer ".
Footprint is the answer and I believe we can all live with that - IF we do it together.  Note : a return to less technology is NOT the answer either .

Footprint is the answer and we must focus on it in the places and spaces we call home .
 We have still got a lot to learn in our journey to sustainability .
You,  as reader,  have 2 choices - cut your life to the bone, as he has done,  or just recognise that so much of the design in the token gestures in other building designs are just that -tokens . This " there is more space than shown on the ground in reality " reality opens up the possibility of a real third way - where houses don't cost the earth  and agriculture and mining doesn't pay our bills .It just works at a more natural pace providing for both scarcity and abundance ( ask for my paper on this subject )
So why is this positive experience and hope for the future rare ? My view is that , apart from the cloudiness created by sound environmental planning being very subtle ,delicate and complex, my generation are not dealing at all well with the reality of self loathing -or whatever you want to call it ( the living beyond our means realities and dread - both there ). The media and political forces want to punch us into change with fear,, when the issue is facts .
We are hard on ourselves and even harder on others ( their use of our resources ) but not objectively so - we are not prepared to stare down the issue,  if you like . ( environmental planning being very subtle delicate, complex but with resilience factors like rain ) . This " guilty as assummed" and" inevitability of destruction" blind spot leads to an impenetrable barrier to open discussion - and a tendency to throw tokens ...  or to just give up .
Help create some dialogue and some reality therapy
One paradox easily missed in the Grand designs program is the preoccupation with individuals; Individuals doing things to " their houses " . That' s fine but ultimately its not just about houses , but homes and communities ; about us doing things together.
I , as a sustainablity expert know that sustainability is possible ( until sun burns out ) but few people around me do, Few people too recognise the huge power we can exert for good by simply putting less pressure on the system .see also here  Often our society fails to distinguish between the impact of  the greed and  the impact of need.   They see the greed of man,  but forget about his capacity for caring . "He's a bad man that bloke next door "
Without extending the discussion here,  its clear to me that  the media and the people do not want to talk about less pressure  , at least partly because they don't realise that its "less pressure on a use" , not the use itself , which leads to sustainability .
An adjustmnet in focus towards footprint is necessary to  link the reality of resilience with the real dangers of degradation ( I have covered this elsewehere). Like some of the links this rant is STILL in process - ask me questions .

If I am right and we don't work together on this, the token gestures will continue.
 IF we don't work together to ADD something better and more hopeful , the token gestures to the gods of the past and the gods of the present ( technology) will continue.
YOU  don't have to  play peasant or pleasantly ignore the poor in the country and countries whom we exploit . YOU can play a different game to the most popular ones .  Good luck . Love to hear from you

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