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Greening the Intellectual Infrastructure
Alex Steffen, 9 Dec 08

Andy Revkin makes a needed point, that an American bright green recovery can't happen without a lot of new innovation, and thus a lot more people working on innovation:

But for such an initiative to be green at a scale sufficient for the atmosphere to notice, my sense is it will need to focus just as much on rebuilding the country’s intellectual infrastructure. I’m not quite sure I’ve heard any leader yet describe the sustained, aggressive “energy quest” that would be required to lead the world toward a future with non-polluting energy choices sufficient to empower more or less 9 billion people — and how that quest would have to extend from the living room to the boardroom, from the laboratory to the classroom, to be transformational.

I think he's dead right. In fact, if we're going to pull this off, we need to train a whole generation (and re-train an earlier generation) of bright green professionals in a host of fields, fields as varied as urban planning, law, civil engineering, public health, journalism, architecture, product design, chemistry and education.

Very few professionals today have the skills to make serious contributions to the debates on sustainability in their fields: the front line of innovation is just too far from the mainstream. We're going to need a massive effort at spreading training, insight and innovation to get Americans up to speed.

It's great that there are more calls to "green up" the economy, but it's important to remember that greening up is going to take more than windmills and hybrids -- it's going to take changed thinking. We can't green up without smartening up.

Read about cutting edge, bright green options in higher education in our fall feature New School Sustainability: Majors Making a Difference.

>You can sign our letter asking Barack Obama to take action on climate change here.

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Comments

This year at MIT the students seem to have lit a real fire for sustainability in that institution. The Energy Club has a couple of hundred members, the Sustainability Club at the Sloan School has a great weekly email of events and opportunities. It hasn't hurt that MIT scientists have recently made some breakthroughs in solar tech but the young energy, which has taken years to build from my observation, has finally reached the tipping point. Whether it will be institutionalized is another question.


Posted by: gmoke on 9 Dec 08

What does a green journalist look like?


Posted by: Daniel on 9 Dec 08

Given the diversity of the professional fields listed above that would be necessary, even required, to pump up innovation, and the tentative, loose connections among them as understood and accepted today, I suggest the core for each of these fields, and an umbrella over all, be whole systems thinking. This approach was initially conceptualized by Ludwig von Bertalanffy, Kenneth Boulding and others in early 1960 and continued for many years. Von Bertalanffy, a Swiss biologist, believed commonalities could be found underlying the various disciplines thought to be discrete unto each. Upon investigation and extensive research, what evolved was a whole systems approach, a way of thinking that identified commonalities among the disciplines.

Whole systems are comprised of sub systems interacting among and between each. Examples of whole systems include human, biological systems; man-made systems such as communities, mechanical, industrial and organizational.

In his recent Open Letter to the "Farmer in Chief", Michael Pollan described the relationships (and systems are about relationships), among food, farming, energy, petroleum, climate change, heath and more, in a concise, systemic way. It seems Pollan applied systems thinking to the complexity of the issues listed above and described in detail in his letter, thus connecting matters thought to be separate (with different solutions for each) and revealing the many relationships where comprehensive solutions can be implemented that at once solve multiple problems.


Posted by: Yvonne Hansen on 13 Dec 08

Dear Mr. Steffen / The Worldchanger Group,

I would just want to comment since I notice your website is into many, many wonderful suggestions about change; you have to stick to your limits.

Its great to have many creative concepts; But know that you can only do 3 things a day, 21 a week, 1000+ a year. If you enter into so many projects, you will be like those gargantuan Corporations you despise, Slaggard, and out of touch with the change you wanted. Your work will be half baked and your influence will diminish.

Or you could get an Industrial Engineer or efficiency expert,to quantify those limits, and during leisure time.

If you want change, you should know the limits your organization can take, and what other projects you can Delegate to other organizations.

Best Regards,

Engr. Mike Du
Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao
Philiippines


Posted by: Michelangelo Du on 21 Dec 08

Am Belgium (Le Monde 13.02)
und am Deutshland ist Wirtscahtkrise

von Raivo Pommer

Trotz einer Rücklage von fast 17 Milliarden Euro rechnet die Bundesagentur für Arbeit (BA) bereits im kommenden Jahr mit neuen Schulden in Milliardenhöhe. BA-Chef Frank-Jürgen Weise sagte am Freitag in Nürnberg nach der Verabschiedung eines Nachtragsetats, die Behörde rechne bei stagnierendem Wirtschaftswachstum Ende 2010 mit einem Defizit von sechs bis sieben Milliarden Euro.

Der Verwaltungsrat der Behörde ist uneins darüber, ob der Bund über einen Tilgungsfonds oder die Rückkehr in die Defizithaftung für diesen Fehlbetrag aufkommen soll. „Ich würde die Zahlen nicht als gegeben annehmen, sie können schlechter werden, sie können aber auch besser werden, wenn wir gegensteuern“, kommentierte Weise das Defizit-Szenario.


Posted by: raivo pommer on 13 Feb 09

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