Friday, April 23, 2010

Bright Green, Viridian Design Movement and Positive Environmentalism

With yesterday being Earth Day, it time to consider the environment and the Planet as a whole. I realize the problem with environmentalism and the Green Philosophy is that we tend to be dour and dire. I mean we're great at rhyming off the number of species that are extinct and are on the verge of extinction, or the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. As for the last one, yeah I've done some blogging on that topic. Not a fun bunch, not invited to a great number of parties. What sort of casual conversation can a person have with someone who will tell you the degradation of the environment and the number of hectares of rain forest that is being logged.

Instead of being so dour and giving economists a run for the money as to who can claim the title; "the dismal science". So there are many who are coming to think of the situation of putting positive views to climate change. By that I mean, we have a technology that can make a difference. Bright Green Environmentalism is defined as:
he term "bright green", first coined in 2003 by writer Alex Steffen, refers to the fast-growing new wing of environmentalism, distinct from traditional forms.[1] Bright green environmentalism aims to provide prosperity in an ecologically sustainable way through the use of new technologies and improved design.[2]

Its proponents tend to be particularly enthusiastic about green energy, electric automobiles, efficient manufacturing systems, bio and nanotechnologies, ubiquitous computing, dense urban settlements, closed loop materials cycles and sustainable product designs. "One-planet living" is a frequently heard buzz-phrase.[3][4] They tend to focus extensively on the idea that through a combination of well-built communities, new technologies and sustainable living practices, quality of life can actually be improved even while ecological footprints shrink.

The concept is being picked up. The City of Vancouver has released a paper entitled: "Vancouver 2020: A Bright Green Future".
The greenest city in the world will be a vibrant place where residents live
prosperous, healthy, happy lives with a one-planet footprint, so as not to
compromise the quality of life of future generations or people living in other parts of the world...Vancouver 2020: A Bright Green Future identifies the kind of innovative actions that will help us meet our targets, but the plan is not intended to be comprehensive. City staff, in concert with residents, businesses, and other interested parties, will develop detailed implementation plans for achieving the 2020 targets. Finally, we have included seven Bright Green Ideas, potentially transformative
actions that could accelerate Vancouver’s ascent to the top of the greenest city rankings.

With this as the view, the City will probably make a good go at the target and probably reach, if not all ten, then the majority of them.

The second part of the title is from a movement established by Bruce Sterling. The Viridian Design Movement has as its philosophy:
he Viridian Design Movement was an aesthetic movement focused on bright green environmentalist concepts. The name was chosen to refer to a shade of green that does not quite look natural, indicating that the movement was about innovative design and technology, in contrast with the "leaf green" of traditional environmentalism. The movement tied together environmental design, techno-progressivism, and global citizenship.

Bruce Sterling has closed down the movement because of the growth of the bright green movement. I think he moved too soon. Let's get the information out to as many as possible.

He wrote a manifesto:
In 1914, the lamps went out all over Europe. Life during the rest of the twentieth century was like crouching under a rock.

But human life is not required to be like the twentieth century. That wasn't fate, it was merely a historical circumstance. In this new Belle Epoque, this delightful era, we are experiencing a prolonged break in the last century's even tenor of mayhem. The time has come to step out of those shadows into a different cultural reality.

We need a sense of revived possibility, of genuine creative potential, of unfeigned joie de vivre. We have a new economy, but we have no new intelligentsia. We have massive flows of information and capital, but we have a grave scarcity of meaning. We know what we can buy, but we don't know what we want.

The twentieth century featured any number of -isms. They were fatally based on the delusion that philosophy trumps engineering. It doesn't. In a world fully competent to command its material basis, ideology is inherently flimsy. "Technology" in its broad sense: the ability to transform resources, the speed at which new possibilities can be opened and exploited, the multiple and various forms of command-and-control -- technology, not ideology, is the twentieth century's lasting legacy. Technology broke the gridlock of the five-decade Cold War. It made a new era thinkable. And, finally, technology made a new era obvious.

But too many twentieth-century technologies are very like twentieth-century ideologies: rigid, monolithic, poisonous and non-sustainable.

We need clean, supple, healthy means of support for a crowded world. We need recyclable technologies, industries that don't take themselves with that Stalinesque seriousness that demands the brutal sacrifice of millions. In order to make flimsy, supple technologies thinkable, and then achievable, then finally obvious, we need an ideology that embraces its own obsolescence.

The immediate future won't be a period suitable for building monuments, establishing thousand-year regimes, creating new-model citizens, or asserting leaden certainties about anything whatsoever. The immediate future is about picking and choosing among previously unforeseen technical potentials.

Positive Environmentalism is not a blind adherence to the notion that 'technology can save us', it is a view that technology offers us the tools to make the radical changes that will bring about a better world for us to live in. The tools are there, but there still needs to be the will and desire to use them. No sense keeping them hanging in the shed, they must be used. That is still the challenge.

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