June 23, 2011

Futuretopia. Or, “Come On, Can’t Humanity Do a Little Better?”

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I used to play Sim City when I was a kid, and I always named my city “Utopia.” So a talk entitled “Futuretopia” really got my idealistic jazz on. Man, I was excited.  I imagined it painting a vision of the future of a harmonious union of sustainability, sufficiency, spirituality, beauty, and appropriate use of advanced technologies that could inspire humanity to get far beyond the current fuck-everything-but-me paradigm and into an interconnected matrix of sustainable WINNING.   

And…I left feeling…”Dammit, humans, can’t we do a little better?”

I guess what it comes down to is, the talk was a lot more…practical, than I was hoping for. I honestly can’t fault it for that. It’s not the speaker’s fault that I was on my idealistic high horse to start with.

A few highlights:

  • Blinds that can store solar energy, solar batteries, improved microwaves
  • Design for disassembly. Why don’t we just pull the motherboard out and put a new one in?  Why are computers “disposable”?
  • Design for up-cycling.  Design it so that when it’s done, it can be used for something else. A cruise ship that becomes a home or hotel built into the side of a hill.  (Now, that’s a bit more like what I’m talking about.)
  • Stop rewarding consumption
  • Mandate strict building codes
  • Tax energy use on a sliding scale
  • Are you yawning yet?

The wave of the future -- getting energy from waves.

I mean, trust me, I’m all for a little (or a lot of!) practicality and on-the-ground green realness (I am the “Where Does the Rubber Meet the Road?” queen to a lot of my friends)…but a talk entitled “Futuretopia” had my inner-idealist all puffed up and entering with expectations of the cuttingest edge of the cutting edge, and man, I expected to be unduly inspired.  I wanted to hear about biomimetic business models; green buildings that emulate the strength and flexibility of trees; wave power and seasteading. Instead I’m thinking of feed-in tarrifs, ecological living, and solar batteries.

Yes, essential.  Yes, in everyday life I’m all about ’em.  And yes…I’mma have another cuppa coffee.

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