I was just finishing reading Complexity by M. Mitchell Waldrop and near the end he wrote about a conference held in 1990 regarding sustainability…
1. A demographic transition to a roughly stable world population.
2. A technological transition to a minimal environmental impact per person
3. An economic transition to a world in which serious attempts are made to charge the real costs of goods and services – including environmental costs – so that there are incentives for the world economy to live off nature’s “income” rather than depleting its “capital”.
4. A social transition to a broader sharing of that income, along with increased opportunities for nondestructive employment for the poor families of the world.
5. An institutional transition to a set of supranational alliances that facilitate a global attack on global problems and allow various aspects of policy to be integrated with one another.
6. An information transition to a world in which scientific research, education and global monitoring allow large numbers of people to understand the nature of the challenges they face.
I thought this was a nice holistic view of the issues that need to be tackled (also I like point 3 and his use of the world deplete:) I think breaking up the problem into the different types of transitions that need to occur make us feel like we all can use our particular skill to help solve the problem. As a student of communication design, I feel like I can help in the information transition, and I think this project is a demonstration of a type of information transition. This goes to show that you don’t have to be an engineer, politician, or architect to have an impact. I think it should also be noted that this is an extremely complex problem, and looking to make any of these transitions independently of any of the others is impossible. Each transition is interdependent.
On a side note, tonight I went to the Toronto launch of the World Changing book. Edward Burtynsky hosted the event and spoke about his work in China and about his involvement with the World Changing team and with Zero Footprint. I haven’t picked up the book yet but it looks good, also I would recommend you check out their blog, they have also just started a local Canadian blog as well and are looking for submissions of world changing work going on in your area.