Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Cradle to Cradle

MBDC is a product and process design firm dedicated to transforming the design of products, processes, and services worldwide. MBDC employ Cradle to Cradle Design using strategies that are "eco-effective" (rather than the widely promoted "eco-efficiency") to create products and systems that contribute to economic, social, and environmental prosperity.

The firm was founded in 1995 by William McDonough and Michael Braungart to promote and power "the Next Industrial Revolution" through intelligent design. In their book, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way we Make Things, the authors present a manifesto calling for a new industrial revolution, one that would render both traditional manufacturing and traditional environmentalism obsolete. Recycling, for instance, is actually "downcycling," creating hybrids of biological and technical "nutrients" which are then unrecoverable and unusable. The authors, an architect and a chemist, want to eliminate the concept of waste altogether, while preserving commerce and allowing for human nature. They offer several compelling examples of corporations that are not just doing less harm--they're actually doing some good for the environment and their neighborhoods, and making more money in the process.

Natural Capitalism

The Natural Capital Institute is a direct offshoot of Paul Hawken’s work and writings, in particular his book Ecology of Commerce and Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution co-authored with Amory Lovins. Both books take the environmental and social degradation caused by industry head on. Natural Capitalism specifically addressed the massive waste of energy and material resources and outlined four principles to bring about a whole systems redesign of industries including transportation, construction, agriculture, and energy.

In any system, there are leverage and choke points that allow relatively small initiatives to have a great influence over the entire system. On the surface, our ability to restore our social fabric and the environment are blocked by lack of money, political corruption, and corporate influence. We are told that sustainability and restoration are too expensive. That logic is upside down. The present economic system, one that marginalizes people and the environment, is the most costly system possible and moving towards restorative, sustainable practices is the least cost alternative.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

USA Today reports that The Debate's Over

An article in USA Today, Monday, June 13, 2005, reports that the ground has shifted on global warming. After decades of debate over whether the planet is heating, and, if so, whose fault it is, divergent groups are joining hands with little fanfare to deal with a problem they say people can no longer avoid. General Electric is the latest big corporate convert; politicians at the state and national level are looking for solutions; and religious groups are taking philosophical and financial stands to slow the progression of climate change. They agree that the problem is real.

Copyright © 2005 The Debate's Over