The fiber-optic cable has brought little but good to the world so far. Ultra-thin
strands of glass, created out of highly refined sand, now connect distant lands
and people. More strands wrapping the globe will cost the environment very
little, yet they will liberate the human spirit and allow ideas from diverse
minds to intermingle. In a sense, we are clothing the planet in neurons that
allow new forms of human enterprise, creativity, and community, just as the
evolution of organic neurons allowed new forms and shapes in living cells.
Kevin Kelly, editor-at-large, Wired magazine
Powerful new technologies such as computers, biotechnology, solar power, and
space sciences can either help us create a just culture in balance with nature or
be used to reinforce the
current inequitable hierarchy and its shortsighted environmental destruction. The
most important inventions now must encompass our collective purpose and our
aspirations for the long haul-like permaculture, the creation of productive and
sustainable landscapes through means that leave a minimal human impact. With its
fusion of justice, sustainability, and meaning, permaculture joins the co-op
movement, the American Constitution, and Buddhism in a long tradition of positive
Kim Stanley Robinson, author of Antarctica
Asking to name a product that benefits the environment is the wrong question.
Anything that comes close to this was almost certainly invented to repair damage
already done. The concept "environmentally friendly technology" is an oxymoron.
But there are new products and services that have significantly less environmental impact than those they
replace. The new Xerox Document Centre 265 Digital Copier, for example, has only
250 replaceable parts (conventional copiers have more than 1,250) and 95 percent
of them are recyclable and reusable. It comes very close to realizing the design
team's ambitious goal of "zero landfill . . . for the sake of our children,"
while creating a "cultural ecology" that leaves in place the values to do even
better next time. Sustained innovative performance is the key to sustainability.
The world does not need environmental gimmicks.
John R. Ehrenfeld, director, MIT Technology, Business, and Environment Program
Gaia Theory, a "life-like" model of how the planet works, was invented by Dr.
James Lovelock, who discovered that Earth's atmosphere-unlike that of Mars or
Venus-is not made up of gases in chemical equilibrium. Lovelock realized that
Earth's highly reactive mix of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and oxygen could only be
maintained through the continuing activity of living organisms, showing that life
fundamentally influences its own environment. Gaia Theory offers a model for how
the planet behaves and helps us identify Earth's "vital signs." Only by
understanding how the planet functions can we "diagnose" a priority for
Paul Allen, development director, Centre for Alternative Technology
Public television was invented as a breathing hole through the thick ice of
commercialism and government spin. San Francisco-based KQED's Newsroom, for
example, once provided live prime-time commentary and investigations by
thoughtful reporters. Environmental issues such as land use-because of their
chronic and complex nature-require such provocative prime-time coverage to create
an informed electorate. That is why public television had to be killed. In the
nearly 20 years since I worked at KQED, corporate boards have gradually stupefied
public television, taking on advertisements from sponsors who influence what will
not be shown. These same forces that robbed the airwaves of ideas have also
corrupted our environment and our political system. If the public cares for
democracy, it should take back, and reinvent, public television.
Gray Brechin, geographer and author of Farewell, Promised Land: Waking From the