WorldWideFuture Weblog

the future of education, politics, science and art

A year for educating green

The CBC, Canada’s national broadcaster, with sponsorship from Cisco has developed an interesting project called One Million Acts of Green. The idea is that people can register their act of environmental kindness or sustainability on the website to reach the goal of one million acts. The contributions in terms of greenhouse gases saved are calculated and noted. (The site currently states that 666,527 acts have saved an estimated 36,043,512 kg of green house gas to January 09 2009).

Now, while I consider things like changing to CFC bulbs or turning off the lights to be of marginal impact on a huge global problem, and pales in comparison to what countries like Germany are doing as a nation. But perhaps this challenge is an interesting take on the idea. I fear that people will soon suffer from over-saturation about talk of the environment and will soon tune out on the message (much like in the 1980s). The current economic picture may compound this effect, where considerations about the environment and economic sustainability will take a back seat to “jobs”. (Never mind that gas prices here are half of what they were earlier this year). Perhaps challenges like One Million Acts of Green will keep the fires burning so to speak, but then again, I hope it does not trivialize the problems or challenges. When it comes to educating the public, and our youth, about the necessity of the smaller footprint, we need to go big or go home.

Hopefully each citizen will consider that the best way they can make change for a sustainable future is by political action. A great example is Hermann Scheer, a German parliamentarian who has been a major force in helping Germany become a shining green economic powerhouse. The same CBC mentioned above had an eye-opening show (“The Gospel of Green” on our national investigative documentary program called the fifth estate), about Germany’s resolve to create jobs and a sustainable future by dramatically switching to renewable energy systems. A full 35% of jobs in Germany is expected to be in the renewal energy field by 2025.

When it comes to keeping people, industry and government moving forward to solutions to complex problems in energy, transportation, food production, communications and biotechnology, (the “Big Five” economic giants) I like to keep in mind Doug Hall’s three laws of marketing physics as outlined in his book: Jump Start Your Business Brain. Hall states people will stay the usual course unless something moves them off that course, (think Newton’s Laws of Motion). The Hall Three Laws are:

1. Overt benefit (must clearly state: What’s in it for me to change)
2. Real reason to believe (must clearly state why someone should believe you have a better answer)
3. Dramatic Difference (your solution must be dramatically different from previous efforts)

Simple in theory, perhaps not always implemented in practice, but it would behoove those that want to change the way our society operates is to ensure they are obeying Hall’s laws. To educate people and transform their way of life we need to make the project big, dramatic and rich in purpose. We need to clearly show that sustainable energy and food and transportation means jobs, and a future of possibilities. Most importantly, we need to show politicians and corporate decision makers a million reasons why this change is important to all of us in the worldwide future.

One Million Acts of Green
CBC fifth estate on Hermann Scheer

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January 5, 2009 Posted by | economy, education, Environment, future, sustainable future, transportation | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A future subverted

The real crime concerning the current economic crises, (real and media imagined), is that almost all talk of the looming environmental crises has disappeared from the political discourse. Instead of Silent Spring we have Silent Fall, (and maybe Silent Winter?) where the carbon heat death of the planet has taken the back seat to the gambling loses of the well-to-do. Greed is the new green, and we are all poorer for it.

Here in Canada this fall we had completed another $100 million election for naught. The opposition Liberals, who exhibited exemplary courage with a proposed “green shift” of taxes from income to polluting behaviours, also exhibited a lack of fortitude and leadership to keep it at the forefront against a Conservative government quite lacking in any environmental initiatives. The economic meltdown silenced the green shift as the Conservatives continually hammered the electorate with the dangers of the Liberal’s “carbon tax” during tough times. The silence of the Liberals sealed the fate of green shifting taxes forever. Despite a viable model in many countries, it will be political suicide for anyone to bring it up again.

The American presidential campaign has just wrapped up as well. I don’t recall hearing many pronouncements on the environment, though Obama has all appearance of becoming the first green president. (One can only hope). But…ten billion a month on the war in Iraq. One trillion dollars to bail out the mistakes of bankers and so called stock market analysts. You won’t be hearing much about conservation, biodiversity, ecology, sustainability, carbon sequestering, pollution control or alternate energy while jobs are being “outsourced” and “Joe six pack” is going to lose his job. The world wide future has receded into the background noise, and it may be long before we ever reconnect with the immediate problems of sustainable energy, food and water and air to breathe.

Funny thing is, the answer to these environmental issues may also be the direct and most possible solutions to the recessive economy.

December 20, 2008 Posted by | economy, Environment, future, politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Free cars! An answer to the economic recession

The so called Big Three North American auto producers may soon receive extraordinary monies from the governments of the United States and Canada to pull them out of bankruptcy.  The bailout is $14 Billion in the US, $3.3 Billion in Canada. A huge amount of money to throw at companies who have mismanaged any kind of monies they already had.

The Big Three claim that the money is needed because people aren’t buying their cars because of the recession or economic downturn or whatever you want to call it. Beyond considerations that maybe people are not buying their cars because of perceived lower quality or lower fuel efficiency compared to “foreign” makes, then I think there is a better solution than giving these corporations bailout money.

The real answer is free cars.

Buy new cars for people. Use the proposed bailout money to buy cars and give them to people in need, or people whose cars are over five years old or who currently have gas guzzlers. Kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. Better the environment and keep the factories producing.

Giving money directly to the corporations won’t keep the factories going, because people still won’t be buying cars. Just where will this money go? Who will they write checks to? By using the money to buy cars directly, then you will stimulate the industry and provide the desperately needed jobs of over a million people. At the same time, you will remove some older cars off the road and replace them with more efficient new cars. I imagine $17 Billion will buy a lot of cars and will keep the factories going quite a lot longer than providing the money to sinking industries who will still be stuck with non-moving stock.

The free economy is the future. See the February Wired magazine’s article from Chris Anderson: Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business.

While we are it, use the other trillion dollars of financial bailouts to buy people houses and clothes and food instead of shelling out taxpayer money to the financial wizards who have already shown they can’t handle it. That will really stimulate the economy.

bailoutyk2(Source unknown. Just a little levity, I don’t subscribe to the idea that the Big Three make inferior products!)

December 19, 2008 Posted by | economy | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Show me the money!

Everyone seems to be talking about billions in bailout money…for everyone from financial institutions to car manufacturers. The US is ready to dump billions…Canada, Europe, Japan, China, etc. ready to follow. Brings to mind some interesting questions…

Where is this money coming from? If this money already existed, why wasn’t it used to pump up the economy or help rebuild infrastructure in the first place? How can all these governments, crying the economic blues for so long, have all this incredible supply of money just sitting there?

If all this money is virtual, isn’t virtual money the problem in the first place?

If this money doesn’t exist, which generation is going to pay for the trillions in bailout money?

Here we have the case of giant corporations, who have paid exorbitant funds for the acquisition and retention of financial “experts”, only to be brought down to the brink by negligence or basic lack of foresight. How can we expect them to utilize the money wisely, and who do you really write the check to?

While I have not been scanning the net deeply, I have been watching the TV news and reading the odd newspaper. Seems to be some really important questions to answer, but like many instances in the recent past (like invading Iraq) we don’t have a viable “fifth estate” asking them. This does not bode well for the world wide future. The biggest question: where is the media when you need it?

December 18, 2008 Posted by | economy, future, politics | , , , , , | 3 Comments