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As Stewart Brand said in the introduction to the Whole Earth Catalogs,

"If we are going to act like gods, we might as well get good at it."

And Biomimicry is one key, and in a sense, one of the legacy's of the Whole Earth movement. Like Buckminster Fuller's comprehensive antipatory design science, Biomimicry is (1) the exploration and understanding of nature, i.e., the environment, as the technology and economy of an exquisitely evolved and designed regenerative life support system (living machine) that has been tested and developed over 4.8 billion years of evolution, and then (2) applying those battle-hardened principles to all aspects of human activity--designing, creating, and managing of society, from industrial products, to urban and regional systems, to public policy, business, the economy, etc.

Key Questions

Sustainability 2030's (S2030) research/practice program addresses the following key questions:

1. How can you/we become effective, powerful, even transformational forces for sustainability?

2. What is the program required for ultimate sustainability success--the end game?

3. Who has part of the answer now (current sustainability champions), how far do they take us, and how can we harness the state-of-the-art leading edge sustainability to an innovative research/practice program that gets us to ultimate success in the limited time remaining?  (more)

Mission

Advance, accelerate, and amplify an accurate understanding of the sustainability challenge and how to harness the power and potential of sustainability for an effective response before time runs out. The Strategic Sustainability2030 Institute  (S2030I) is a web-based think/do tank (more).

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April 2013, Chicago, APA National Conference.

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October 23-26, Portland, EcoDistrict Summit 2012.

July 31-Aug. 4, Portland, Ecosystem Services Conference.

May 2-4, Portland, The Living Future Unconference for deep green professionals.

June 15-18, Brazil, Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development

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Our Challenge

as Buckminster Fuller observed, is

"to make the world work for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone."

This goal is the essence of sustainable development! The Buckminster Fuller Institute (BFI) provides access to Bucky's legacy, including his comprehensive anticipatory design science revolution. Check out their website, their programs, and engage.

Problem & Way Out

  

Caption: "Sadly, the only proven way to achieve global GHG reductions so far has been economic recession." Comment: Fortunately, shifting to 100% renewables would catalyze the global transition to durable prosperity and community well-being in a way that would eliminate GHG production AND grow the economy <<continued>>. (See also: strategic sustainabilitynatural capitalismits four strategies, and RMI's Reinventing Fire [energy] Program.) 

APA Links
FEATURES1

Green Urbanism - Formulating a series of holistic principles

Green Growth - Recent Developments (OECD)

Foundation Earth - Rethinking Society from the Ground Up

Reinventing Fire - A key transformational initiative of RMI worth knowing/watching.

A Quick-Start Guide to Strategic Sustainability Planning

NEW Report: Embedding sustainability into government culture.

New STARS LEED-like sustainable transportation tool for plans, projects, cities, corridors, regions.

Strategic Community Sustainability Planning workshop resources.

Leveraging Leading-Edge Sustainability report.

Winning or losing the future is our choice NOW!

How Possible is Sustainable Development, by Edward Jepson, PhD.

Legacy sustainability articles -- the Naphtali Knox collection.

FEATURES2

TNS Transition to Global Sustainability Network

EcoDistricts -- NextGen Urban Sustainability

Darin Dinsmore: Community & Regional Sustainability Strategies and Planning

Sustainable Infrastructure: The Guide to Green Engineering and Design

APA-SCP (Sustainable Community Planning) Interest Group

Sustainability Learning Center

New path breaking Solutions Journal

Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development

Strategic Sustainability -- distance learning at BHT

Q4 Consulting - Mindfulness, Sustainability, and Leadership

RealClimate--Climate Science by Real Scientists

World Cafe--Designed Conversation for Group Intelligence

Real Change--Research Program for Global Sustainability Decision Making

RMI Conference, SF, 10-1/3-2009

Real Time Carbon Counter

Global Climate Change - Implications for US

Agenda for a Sustainable America 2009

ALIA Institute Sustainability Leadership

Frontiers in Ecological Economics

Herman Daly -- Failed Growth to Sustainable Steady State?

EOF - Macroeconomics and Ecological Sustainability

Gil Friend - Truth About Green Business

Sustainable Transpo SF

Google Earth-Day KMLs

AIA Sustainability 2030 Toolkit

Donella Meadows - Which Future?

Urban Mobility System wins Bucky Challenge 2009

Renewable Economy Cheaper than Systems Collapse

Population Growth-Earth Forum

Breakthrough Ideas-Bucky Challenge

Urban & Regional Planning-Cities at a Turning Point

John P. Holdren-Meeting the Climate Change Challenge

Stephen Cohen's Weekly Column in the New York Observer

« SSI2030's New Year Challenge: Catalyze an "Educating the World for Regenerative Success" Campaign | Main | New Year Greeting 1: The Challenge & the Basis for Authentic Hope »
Saturday
Jan122013

New Year Greeting 2: Donella Meadows on Love, Hope, & Sustainability

I have found no better framing of our sustainability predicament that leads to an accurate understanding, the basis for authentic hope, and the possibility of constructive action than Donella Meadows' discussion of love, hope and sustainability (Beyond the Limits: 1992). It is food for thought and a useful mental anchor, or at least perspective to remember, as the world moves into 2013.

In addition, Sweden's educating a nation campaign begun in 1990 with the launch of The Natural Step is an inspiring and instructive example of Donella's point (see this post for a global educational campaign it inspired for me and SSI2030).

The summary below highlights Donella's key points for a constructive understanding of our predicament, and her rich, couple-page discussion follows in its entirety for your immersion, contemplation, enjoyment, inspiration, and synthesis.

Wishing you the best for transformational sustainability in 2013 (the clock is ticking),

Scott

Summary

Is any change we have advocated in this book possible? Can the world actually ease down below the limits and avoid collapse? Is there enough time? Is there enough money, technology, freedom, vision, community, responsibility, foresight, discipline, and love, on a global scale?

Of all the hypothetical questions we have posed in this book, those are the most unanswerable, though many people will pretend to know the answers. Some say the questions are not even relevant; there are no meaningful limits. Many informed people who worry about overshoot and systems collapse are infected with deep public cynicism. They say that current problems are severe, will only get worse, and that solutions are no longer possible.

Both those answers are based, of course, on mental models. The truth is that no one knows. We have said many times in this book that the world faces not a preordained future, but a choice. The choice is between [mental] models.

One model says that this finite world has no limits for all practical purposes (the business-as-usual model (BAU)). Choosing (continuing with) that model will take us even further beyond the limits and, we believe, to [biospheric and social system] collapse.

Another model says that the limits are real and close, and that there is not enough time, and that people cannot be moderate or responsible or compassionate (a variation of BAU). That model is self-fulfilling. If the world chooses to believe it, the world will get to be right, and the result will also be collapse. This could be considered the scientist-nonhumanist-pessimist model.

A third model says that the limits are real and close, and that there is just exactly enough time, with no time to waste [to make the choice to reverse course for regenerative success]. There is just exactly enough energy, enough material, enough money, enough environmental resilience, and enough human virtue to bring about a revolution to a better world. This could be considered the scientist-humanist-optimist model.

That third model might be wrong. However, all the evidence we have seen from the world data to the global computer models, suggests that it might be right, and there is no way of knowing for sure, other that to try it.

One inspiring example of the third mental model, and a unique one, is the story of the 1990 launching of The Natural Step in a national campaign kicked off by the King of Sweden. You can read about it and the key principles of the program and sustainability in an article by the Context Institute entitled, Educating A Nation: The Natural Step--A remarkable nation-wide program unites Sweden in moving from linear to cyclic processes - the hallmark of sustainability.

In Donella's Own Words

Loving

One is not allowed in the modern culture to speak about love, except in the most romantic and trivial sense of the word. Anyone who calls upon the capacity of people to practice brotherly and sisterly love is more likely to be ridiculed than to be taken seriously. The deepest difference between optimists and pessimists is their position in the debate about whether human beings are able to operate collectively from a basis of love. In a society that systematically develops in people their individualism, their competitiveness, and their cynicism, the pessimists are in the vast majority.

That pessimism is the single greatest problem of the current social system, we think, and the deepest cause of unsustainability. A culture that cannot believe in, discuss, and develop the best human qualities is one that suffers from a tragic distortion of information. "How good a society does human nature permit?" asked psychologist Abraham Maslow. [The corollary question is,] "How good a human nature does society permit?” 1

The sustainability revolution will have to be, above all, a societal transformation that permits the best of human nature rather than the worst to be expressed and nurtured. Many people have recognized that necessity and that opportunity. For example, John Maynard Keynes wrote in 1932:

The problem of want and poverty and the economic struggle between classes and nations is nothing but a frightful muddle, a transitory and unnecessary muddle. For the Western World already has the resource and the technique, if we could create the organization to use them, capable of reducing the Economic Problem, which now absorbs our moral and material energy, to a position of secondary importance . . . . Thus the . . . day is not far off when the Economic Problem will take the back seat where it belongs, and ... the arena of the heart and head will be occupied . . . by our real problems—the problems of life and of human relations, of creation and behavior and religion.2

Aurelio Peccei, the great industrial leader who wrote constantly about problems of growth and limits, economics and environment, re-sources and governance, never failed to conclude that the answers to the world's problems begin with a "new humanism":

The humanism consonant with our epoch must replace and reverse principles and norms that we have heretofore regarded as untouchable, but that have become inapplicable, or discordant with our purpose; it must encourage the rise of new value systems to redress our inner balance, and of new spiritual, ethical, philosophical, social, political, esthetic, and artistic motivations to fill the emptiness of our life; it must be capable of restoring within us . . . love, friendship, understanding, solidarity, a spirit of sacrifice, conviviality; and it must make us understand that the more closely these qualities link us to other forms of life and to our brothers and sisters everywhere in the world, the more we shall gain.3

It is difficult to speak of or to practice love, friendship, generosity, understanding, or solidarity within a system whose rules, goals, and information streams are geared for lesser human qualities. But we try, and we urge you to try. Be patient with yourself and others as you and they confront the difficulty of a changing world. Understand and empathize with inevitable resistance; there is some resistance, some clinging to the ways of unsustainability, within each of us. Include everyone in the new world. Everyone will be needed. Seek out and trust in the best human instincts in yourself and in everyone. Listen to the cynicism around you and pity those who believe it, but don't believe it yourself.

The world can never pass safely through the adventure of bringing itself below the limits if that adventure is not undertaken in a spirit of global partnership. Collapse cannot be avoided if people do not learn to view themselves and others with compassion. We take our stand as optimists. We think people can find that compassion within themselves if they are given the opportunity, without ridicule, to do so.

Is any change we have advocated in this book, from more resource efficiency to more human compassion, really possible? Can the world actually ease down below the limits and avoid collapse? Is there enough time? Is there enough money, technology, freedom, vision, community, responsibility, foresight, discipline, and love, on a global scale?

Of all the hypothetical questions we have posed in this book, those are the most unanswerable, though many people will pretend to know the answers. The ritual cheerfulness of many uninformed people, especially many world leaders, would say the questions are not even relevant; there are no meaningful limits. Many of those who are informed and who worry about the problem of overshoot are infected with the deep public cynicism that lies just under ritual cheerfulness. They would say that there are severe problems already, with worse ones ahead, and that there' not a chance of solving them.

Both those answers are based, of course, on mental models. The truth is that no one knows. We have said many times in this book that the world faces not a preordained future, but a choice. The choice is between [mental] models. One model saysthat this finite world has no limits for all practical purposes. Choosing that model will take us even further beyond the limits and, we believe, to [biospheric and social system] collapse.

Another model says that the limits are real and close, and that there is not enough time, and that people cannot be moderate or responsible or compassionate. That model is self-fulfilling. If the world chooses to believe it, the world will get to be right, and the result will also be collapse.

A third model says that the limits are real and close, and that there is just exactly enough time, with no time to waste [to make the choice to reverse course for regenerative success]. There is just exactly enough energy, enough material, enough money, enough environmental resilience, and enough human virtue to bring about a revolution to a better world.

That model might be wrong. [However,] All the evidence we have seen from the world data to the global computer models, suggests that it might be right. There is no way of knowing for sure, other that to try it.

[emphasis added.]

-------------------

1Abraham Maslow, The Farthest Reaches of Human Nature (New York: Viking Press, 1971).

2John. M. Keynes, foreward to Essays in Persuasion (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1932).

3 Aurelio Peccei, One Hundered Pages for the Future (New York: Pergamon Press, 1981), 194-85

Source: Donella Meadows, Beyond the Limits: Confronting Global Collapse-Envisioning a Sustainable Future, Vermont: Chelsea Green, 1992, pp233-236.

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