Considering the odds of survival for homo sapiens technicus

Humanity will survive, but Gaia might not let us keep our toys...

Brent Eubanks
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I like technology. A lot.

I like the ways it makes my life easier, more effective, more free, and more interesting. I also like the intellectual challenge of creating it, understanding it, and using it. About the only thing I don't like about it, is having to fix it. But I really enjoy figuring out how to design it so that it doesn't need fixing.

My love of technology led me to study engineering. And my study of engineering led me to realize that our technology, and consequently our culture, is fundamentally broken.

Life on Spaceship Earth is made possible by a vastly complex array of relationships between living systems that we like to call the biosphere. Without it, this planet would be just another rock. The biosphere provides resources and services that are the basis of all material wealth that we humans enjoy. We use technology to extract, concentrate, and add value to these basic resources, but in the end our prosperity depends utterly upon them.

The problem is that our technology takes from the biosphere without giving back and without regard for collateral damage. We use polluting, nonrenewable energy to transform natural resources to a relatively small stream of useful goods and vast mountains of waste, within an economic system that demands that this process continuously accelerate in order to remain "healthy". Lately we have achieved a scale of activity that exceeds the ability of the biosphere to repair itself. We are breaking the planetary life support system faster than it can be fixed, the victims of our own successful industrialization.

However, there is a solution. It is not a new technology, but a new philosophy. Technology and society must be designed to work with natural forces, rather than against them. Linear, once-through flows of materials and energy must be replaced with cyclic flows that mimic natural processes. By harnessing natural connections and honoring the crucial role of ecosystem services, regenerative design and biomimicry can allow us to achieve both human prosperity and ecological health.

To learn more about how this is possible, read:
Natural Capitalism
Cradle to Cradle
Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture
Permaculture in a Nutshell

Another resource I recommend is my collection of sustainability-related bookmarks.

I also highly recommend this video of a speech delivered by Bill McDonough at Bioneers 2000. It's about 45 minutes long. You can download a small version (80MB) or a large version (600 MB). (Use Quicktime 7 to view the larger one, or any Quicktime version for the smaller one.) I also have it on DVD if anyone wants to distribute it that way. Or watch it on YouTube. (Apologies for the quality -- it's ripped from videotape.)

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