At the Greener Gadgets Conference last Friday, a lot of great minds came together to discuss how technology can advance and we can lessen our impact on the planet at the same time. One concept kept coming up throughout the day and, as obvious as it seems, it struck a chord with me.
This major theme was that we needed to focus on creating an heirloom culture. Saul Griffith concluded his keynote with this point and the other panels throughout the day seemed to keep circling around this idea.
The concept is that any products that we manufacture from here on out should be made to last, to the point where we could hand them down to our children, and we as consumers should take care of our things and consume less. The combination would mean cutting down on waste and the need for raw materials and energy to make new things. Ideally, our current culture of constantly creating and buying new things to replace another, would instead become a culture of maintenance and repair.
A good example of this would be that instead of electronics companies releasing new models of their products every six months to a year, hardware and all, they would instead only release software to update the electronics. This way, people could take advantage of gains in technology without having to throw out the existing product. Completely new models would be released much less frequently and only when the hardware itself truly demanded it. At that point recycling would be widely available and free.
Griffith also explained to us that dramatically reducing consumption was only half of what needed to be done to turn the climate crisis around. Auto companies and other major manufacturers, while creating less of their products, would instead take over building wind turbines, solar panels and all clean energy infrastructure.
The point he was making was that in order to have all the clean energy in place that will be necessary, there will have to be a global priority shift like what happened in World War II when companies took over making military equipment and supplies because of the dire need. The manpower and tools already exist to make these things, but we lose time by building new plants to manufacture them. Companies would stay in business and maybe even prosper and the world would also make major gains in getting renewable energy in place.
written by Nick, March 07, 2009
written by Ali, March 14, 2009
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