A Users Guide for the 21st Century
Forleden fik jeg den opdaterede 2011 version af Worldchanging leveret med posten. Den udkom for over 2 måneder siden i USA, men har været udsolgt [eller forsinket?] i de danske butikker. Men nu er den igen til at få fat i… til billige penge [Bogpriser.dk, 180 kr]
Jeg var ikke blandt dem der købte den første “spæde” udgivelse af Worldchanging i 2006. Men det er et studie værd at sammenligne de to udgivelser. I 2006 skrev sci-fi forfatteren Bruce Sterling [sandsynligvis] et fremadskuende, visionært forord, og politikeren Al Gore løftede [mere end sandsynligt!] en alvorlig pegefinger i introduktionen. 2011 versionen er mere praktisk anrettet – en idémanual der udspringer af de forgange 6-7 års enorme mængder af miljøfagligt journalistiks stof. Forordet er i denne version skrevet af miljø-/ menneskerettighedsaktivist og advokat, Van Jones, og introduktionen [som kan læses nederst] er skrevet af miljøforkæmper, forfatter Bill McKibben – En alvorlig mand der kan lukke munden på selv David Letterman [youtube].
Overblik giver overblik
Det er næsten synd kun at kalde bogen for en opslagsbog. For selv om den ikke er er opbygget af egentlige artikler, så giver de 7 overordnede temaer [STUFF, SHELTER, CITIES, COMMUNITY, BUSINESS, POLITICS, PLANET] en tilpas skalering af bogen. Hvert tema indledes med en introduktion og indeholder 10-20, overraskende blandede, under emner. Jeg har ihvertfald angrebet bogen fra en ende af. Og hvis arkitekter gik til eksamen i Sim City, så ville Worldchanging sikkert være pensum.
År 2060 – en pænt nær fremtid
For at råde bod på Bruce Sterlings manglende forord, har jeg valgt at at supplere Worldchanging, med hans allerede roste år 2060 sci-fi fremtidssyn fra 2009, bogen “The Caryatids” [læs anmeldelser: Worldchanging.com og BoingBoing] – en bog der på bedste sci-fi vis tager de fleste af de problemer op som havde været fuldstændig utænkelige i det 20. århundrede, og oveni dette, mange down-and-dirty-facts om et klima i kollaps. [se Bogpriser.dk, ca. 175 kr]
“(…) The future of The Caryatids is one in which there is hope. Not naive, wishful thinking hope. (but) Hard-nosed, utterly plausible hope, for a future in which the human race outthinks its worse impulses and survives despite all the odds.” – uddrag fra anmeldelse
Uddrag fra Worldchanging:
Læs introduktionen i Worldchange af Bill McKibben
I can remember what it was like to give an Earth Day talk twenty years ago – you needed to keep your fingers firmly crossed, and hope. You could conjure up a rough image of, say, a solar-powered world, but a rough image was all it was. Actual solar power was still something for a few ex-hippies who were handy with a wrench and content to spend hours in the basement playing with their battery array. It wasn’t anywhere near ready for prime time. Describing a bright green future took a strong imagination.
That’s changed, and changed fast. I’m typing these words on my laptop, and the cord runs pretty much straight to the photovoltaic panels on my roof. They’re also tied into the grid; on a sunny day my home is a little power plant, firing electrons to my neighbors. And of course – and perhaps most decisively of all – that computer is tied to a grid too, so that a whole new world of ideas and images and possibilities can be quickly and powerfully shared.
Worldchanging is a kind of distillate of that new world. It takes an old technology print on paper and produces a volume that captures at this particular moment the most exciting possibilities on the planet. To read Worldchanging is to understand the range of solutions from which we can draw to build a workable future, and to glimpse a vision of what that future might look like.
As a reporter and activist, I’ve had the chance to see that future in its early stages: for instance, I spent months in Curitiba, Brazil, where the modem idea of people-moving that we now call bus rapid transit (BRT) was born. I’ve wandered the urban farms of Havana, and seen big cities in China where virtually every home draws its hot water from solar arrays on the roof. Pieces of the bright green future envisioned in this book are facts on the ground in various spots around the world; they’re just isolated and scattered.
That makes me even more grateful for the work of selection, insight, and synthesis on display in this volume, because we need to take our best solutions viral. When Jaime Lerner, architect-mayor of Curitiba, sketched his fim plan for a bus that worked like a subway, it was easier to see the idea’s problems than its potential to spread – but groups like Worldchanging have shown people around the planet the charming cities we can build if we take transit seriously, and BRT has taken off. Earlier this year I rode a BRT bus down an express lane in Beijing, and felt thankful for the networks of solution-focused people who helped the idea jump from Brazil to Beijing and a thousand other cities.
If you look closely through this book, you’ll see a spectrum of solutions emerging. At on end of the scale, many sensible designs for the future are likely to be relatively cheap and easy to execute. In a poor world facing deep physical limits, the future won’ t be mostly pushbuttons and jetpacks the way we once imagined: it will be built from bicycle drive trains that can power small grain mills, from biomethane digesters that turn one cow’s manure into a steady stream of cooking gas for a family, from the sweaty miracles af double-dug vegetable beds. These are the kind of projects that can be microfinanced, drawing on the lessons that Grameen and other organizations have taught us about making capitalism work for people instead of against them.
On the other end of the spectrum, we need to rebuild systems themselves. In doing that job, new designs, innovative engineering, and community technologies the bevy of smart phones and tablets that increasingly serve as extensions of our brains are clearly accelerants of the rush toward sustainability. From wind farms to supergreen apartment retrofits, high-speed rail to New York’s High Line linear park, the future demands that we not only improve the new, but restore and reimagine what we already have. This book will give you as fine an overview of sustainable designs and technologies as you can find between two covers anywhere.
At the heart of it all is community. The intrinsic efficiencies and pleasures of going beyond the American obsession with hyperindividuality are on display on almost every page. The future isn’t one person in one electric car, or a solitary shopper in a giant Walmart buying a marginally greener product. The future is car-sharing clubs. The future is the farmers’ market, the fastest-growing part of the U.S. food economy. On a rapidly urbanizing planet, community is key. As we’re reminded in these pages, we can’t build what we can’t imagine.
This book is substantially different from the edition published five years ago. The world is different, too. The world today is comparatively buzzing with talk about sustainability solutions. Many are of limited value at best. We need to be able to judge for ourselves what’s a real solution and what’s just greenwashing. That means broad overviews of critical concepts are more important, and occupy a more important place in these pages.
This book is an instruction manual for thinking for yourself and acting at the right scale to solve a given problem. There’s been another change, however, in the last five year , a grim one: it’s hotter outside. Globally averaged, the planet’s about one degree warmer than it ought to be. The fear of climate change, still theoretical a generation ago, is now a rapidly growing reality in our everyday life. The summer of 2010 was the most brutal people have ever witnessed across the Northern Hemisphere: wild Arctic melt, epic Russian drought and fire, biblical flood across Pakistan. And climatologists insist that one degree is set to become four or five degree before the century is out, unless we make an extremely quick and dramatic transition away from fossil fuel.
If we fail to rapidly arrest global warming and the other big environmental perils we face then the innovation discussed in these pages will never have the time they need to flourish. If one disaster follows another in rapid train, as become statistically more likely on a hotter planet, we’ll soon be spending all our energy (and money) on sheer survival, on disaster response and refugee aid.
So our job is to speed the transition to the other world these innovations promise to make them not wonderful exceptions, but the rule. And doing that will be difficult, because the old world doesn’t die away easily. At the moment, the most profitable businesses on earth involve discovering, refining, and burning fossil fuel. In 2009, Exxon Mobil made $45.2 billion, an all-time record for that company. And that money has brought them and their ilk enough power to stall and delay the transition everyone knows we need to make.
If there was a single action that would make a worldchanging game plan go to scale quickly, it’s this: fossil fuel, the fuel of the past, should pay the price for the damage it does to the planet. There should be a stiff fee attached to coal and gas and oil fossil-fuel companies should not be allowed to use the atmosphere as a free open sewer for their waste. If we demanded that fossil-fuel users pay their true costs, then the innovations in these pages would suddenly make sense in every way: not just human sense and ecological sense, but immediate economic sense as well. Ask yourself why so many of our greenest eities have emerged in western Europe: above all because the price of gasoline has always been $7 or $8 a gallon , and hence sprawl never made sense and trains and bikes always seemed like more obvious choices.
Winning that change is a political task the political task of our time. So far we’ve failed: the power of the fossil-fuel industry collapsed the 2009 Copenhagen talks, and so far has wrecked any real legislation in Washington. But the very same tools that produced so many of the small miracles chronicled in these pages also give us at least a chance at winning that political fight.
A few years ago, I helped found 350.org, which took its name from a wonky concept: the amount of carbon dioxide, measured in parts per million, that scientists now think is the safe upper limit for the planet. It’s a tough number we’re already well past it, at 390 ppm. which explains why the Arctic is melting and unprecedented wildfires are burning around the planet. Yet we’ve managed to build a huge international movement; in fact, CNN said our first global day of action in 2009 was “the most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history,” with 5,200 demonstrations in 181 countries. In the fall of 2010 we pulled off an even bigger event and one very elose to the spirit of this book. We called it a Global Work Party. In more than 7,000 places around the globe, people put up solar panels, or dug community gardens, or planted mangrove swamps, or repaired bikes by the thousand to get communities cycling. We did , in other words, all the thing that communities can do now.
Getting to 350, though, will take more than community action. and it will take more than the largest political movement the world’s ever seen. It will take making real the vision of a world where ommunities everywhere prosper within the limits of the planer’s natural systems. That, in turn, will take new ideas: clever ideas, powerful ideas, brilliant ideas, worldchanging ideas.